GRACE: Restorative Justice on the Southeast Side

Our communities are facing an epidemic of youth incarceration and recidivism. Too many of our young people are growing up in a climate of violence, without the economic opportunities, community mentors, and training they need to thrive and grow.

That’s why the Alliance of the Southeast (ASE) and affiliated community partners have launched GRACE (Groups Responding with Another Chance and Education) a comprehensive strategy for restorative justice in the South Chicago neighborhood of the 4th Police District.

It is with the participation of the community that we hope to transform their lives, guide them to community resources, and make them leaders in their community.

GRACE is a community-integrated  intervention approach to youth sentencing to reduce recidivism and curb youth violence. GRACE intervenes with juvenile offenders with restorative justice practices, mentoring, and counseling. Cook County Juvenile Probation and Diversion Departments and 4th District Police Department will refer juvenile offenders to community service hours with ASE partners, to re-integrate them into the community, form relationships with local residents, and connect them to resources. Although ASE will take referrals for youth living anywhere in the 4th District, the GRACE program will focus on juvenile offenders living or attending school between 82nd and 95th Streets, east of South Chicago Ave.

Jail and juvenile detention centers can be traumatizing places for youth offenders. Many enter the system and find it difficult to get out. Meanwhile, studies have shown that community service and counseling sentences have dramatic effects to reduce recidivism rates for young people, while providing them with the skills, connections, mentors, and support they need to reintegrate successfully into their neighborhoods.

Through ASE’s GRACE Program for Restorative Justice, youth offenders can now be sentenced to community service with the following partner organizations:

  • Alliance of the Southeast
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Church
  • Claretian Associates
  • 10th Ward Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza’s Office
  • South Chicago Art Center

This approach will affect dozens of at risk juvenile offenders per year, and reduce overall the predominance of youth violence in South Chicago.

For more information, please contact Xia Xiang W., GRACE Coordinator, at 708-628-8081.

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