History of the MORJC
In 2002, Sister of Mercy Sharon Schmitz, co-founder of the Center for Women in Transition, and Jackie Peterson, chair of the Center’s Advisory Committee recruited Pam Caraffa, an organizational psychologist, and strategists Chip Marvin and Lawrence O’Neill to brainstorm ideas for moving restorative justice forward in Missouri. This small group recruited stakeholders, diverse in race, gender, and religion, to create a plan and processes to further restorative justice in Missouri.
Those enlisted were Al Akerson, Barbara Baker, Eric Bauman, Charles Bryson, Julia Childrey, Barbara Gehringer, Kate Mansfield, Rose McLarney, Judy Pannett, Quinton Richardson, Becca Stewart, the late Ed Stout and Dorcas Wilkinson (representing victims, universities, re-entry programs, public relations, offenders, mediators, corrections, city officials, churches and businesses). Most of the persons contacted readily agreed to serve on the Task Force. The exception was law enforcement which, at the time, was dealing with the aftermath of the September 11 disaster.
Task Force members educated themselves about restorative justice and designed a three year plan, entitled the Missouri Restorative Justice Initiative, to educate Missourians about restorative justice.A grant was received to begin the project and, in November 2004, Nina Balsam was hired to direct the initiative. As required by the plan, an Advisory Committee of Stakeholders guided Balsam’s work. This Advisory Committee included Sgt. Bob Catlett, from law enforcement and several of the original Task Force members. Some persons in the original group had to resign and were replaced by Kathy Tofall, Victims Advocate, Jeananne Markway, Department of Corrections, Carolyn Golden, Center for Women in Transition, Lauretta Coleman, Courts, and Dana Klar, Native American Studies, Washington University.
In 2005 the Missouri Restorative Justice Coalition was formed out of the work of the Initiative, holding its first meeting in March. Since then the MORJC has been actively working to educate Missourians about restorative justice principles and promoting restorative justice practices.