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Restoring justice

Posted October 09, 2013 in Community Featured, Des Moines West
Plymouth UCC will host an AMOS Restorative Justice Conference on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Plymouth UCC will host an AMOS Restorative Justice Conference on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Older folks often pass down horrifying childhood tales of corporal punishments. It’s no wonder those children grew up to become the inventors of today’s peaceful alternative, the time-out.

Young parents today are more inclined to implement time-outs and other more passive and painless disciplinary tactics. But has the calming of child discipline gone too far? Many people blame the onslaught of school violence, terrorism and juvenile crime on the lack of discipline, more specifically, the occasional spanking.

But what about God? Have the once deeply-woven moral fibers of American families become frayed, replaced by an complacent view of right and wrong and of the law?

A May 2013 Juvenile Justice Report, released by the Iowa Department of Human Rights, Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning, shows the racial inequalities that exist among child crime in central Iowa. According to the report, the top three crimes are, in order, theft, assault and drugs for white kids; theft, violent behavior and assault for African-American youths and theft, assault and violent behavior for Hispanics. The good news is that, through restorative justice reform measures, the numbers of arrests among Caucasian and African-American juveniles has decreased from 2008 to 2012. But more needs to be done, according to members of A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy (AMOS), which is holding a teaching session about the practices and principles of restorative justice at the Plymouth UCC on Saturday, Oct. 19.

Subjects to be covered include an explanation of what restorative justice is, what it isn’t and how it works; AMOS Court Watching Initiative lessons that have been learned so far in the first six months of efforts; AMOS Profiling Initiative, a look at ways to address the problem of profiling in the community; and AMOS School Mediation — how to help kids learn conflict resolution before those conflicts escalate into suspensions, expulsion or violence and crime.

“In the midst of our polarized political times, AMOS brings ordinary people together
across the lines that divide and crafts creative solutions to the real issues that impact central Iowa families,” says AMOS lead organizer Paul Turner. AMOS is a non-profit community organization in central Iowa made up of 28 diverse members, including churches, synagogues and advocacy organizations that represent thousands of Des Moines metro residents and Ames.

“We are non-partisan. We are local. We are interfaith,” he says. “And we make democracy work.”

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