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Healing Beyond Harm
Restorative Justice Project

Harm Dialogues and Apology Letter Bank Programs

What is Healing Beyond Harm?

Healing Beyond Harm Restorative Justice Pilot Project is a multi-agency and community collaborative effort that aims to create spaces of healing for people who have been harmed and those that have caused the harm.  There are two main processes that Healing Beyond Harm offers: The Apology Letter Bank and Harm Repair Dialogues.  Both are created to support healing and learning after harm has occurred. 

Illinois is joining 13 other states to use facilitated trauma-informed restorative processes with workshops to create apology letters by people who have harmed others. With the crime survivor community advocates, we will also provide support and capacity-building experiences for survivors of harm who may have a letter of apology written to them.

Why Restorative Justice?

Restorative Justice aims to:

  1. Reestablish the balance that has been offset as the result of a harmful crime.
  2. Involve the primary stakeholders (i.e. crime survivor(s), person who inflicted the harm, and the affected community).
     
  3. Engage them in the
    decision-making process of how best to restore this balance.  

What is a Harm Dialogue?

  1. A face-to-face interactive conference between the crime survivor(s) and the person who committed the harm, in which they discuss the impact of the crime.

  2. Always crime survivor-initiated.

  3. Not for the purposes of furthering appeals/parole.

  4. Focus is the emotional/mental well-being of all participants.
Inmate Counseling

"On the other side of the worst thing I've experienced, I found the best version of myself.”
- Lisa Daniels

Darren B. Easterling Center for Restorative Practices

What is an Apology Letter Bank?

An Apology Letter Bank (ALB) is a RJ practice that allows a person who is incarcerated or who has caused harm to write a letter of apology to the person that they have harmed. Survivors can be notified about these letters and then decide if they would like to accept such a letter. Both survivors and letter writers are provided support throughout the process.  

  • Always at crime survivor’s behest.
  • May eventually lead to a Harm Dialogue.
  • Designed to promote meaningful healing for all participants.

IDOC Pilot Sites

During the pilot we invite people from two institutions to participate in transformational trauma healing workshops.
This is the first step to promoting a greater sense of well-being for the people harmed by their crimes.

Stateville Correctional Center

Logan Correctional Center

Restorative Justice Pilot Partners

Justice, Equity, and Opportunity
Initiative

Prisoner Review Board
Victim Services Unit

Illinois Attorney General
Victim Services Unit

Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office
Victim Services Unit

The Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice
at Adler University

Illinois Department of Corrections

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Community Stakeholders

For more information, please contact the
Healing Beyond Harm Restorative Justice Coordinator

Vanessa Westley, Healing Beyond Harm Restorative Justice Coordinator

Vanessa Westley
Adler University
Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice
17 N Dearborn
Chicago, IL 60602
312-662-4071 
vwestley@adler.edu

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