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A Civic Engagement Model of Reentry: Involving Community Through Service and Restorative Justice

Bazemore, Gordon
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Federal Probation. 68(2): 14-24.

Drawing on the findings of the civic-reintegration literature, the authors propose a “civic engagement” intervention model that can be used to develop and test the impact of strategies that focus on strengthening commitments in a variety of citizenship domains related to effective ex-offender reentry. Under such a model, civic-engagement policy and practice would weaken barriers to the development of prosocial identities for those who have been under correctional supervision, alter the community’s image of such individuals, and mobilize a community’s capacity to provide informal support and assistance for ex-offenders. Two promising practices for implementing the proposed model involve civic community service and restorative justice. Civic community service involves activities that strengthen bonds between ex-offenders and their community in the pursuit of positive goals. Relevant projects would meet community needs, build community capacity, and repair the harm caused to the community by crime. Restorative justice in practice involves a range of activities that focus on repairing the damage to the community caused by crime. Restorative-justice goals of engaging victims, offenders, and the community in nonadversarial responses to crime can include family group conferencing, peacemaking circles, and neighborhood boards. These activities involve offenders, victims, and community members in rehabilitative and constructive endeavors. The implementation of this model, however, is impeded by the many restrictions on ex-offender employment, parental rights, voting rights, and other forms of exclusion and social stigma that make it difficult for released offenders to participate fully in community life. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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