On June 19, 2013 the NACRJ was publicly presented to the attendees at the 4th National Conference on Restorative Justice hosted by the University of Toledo and the Lourdes University, Toledo, OH. The National Association of Community and Restorative Justice was created to serve as the parent organization for the biannual National Conference on Restorative Justice.
Successful conferences were conducted in 2007 at Shreiner University, Kerrville, TX; in 2009 at the University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, and in 2011 at Campbell University, Raleigh, NC. Each of these conferences was planned and organized primarily by a Local Organizing Committee lead by a Lead Organizer with support and assistance from a National Organizing Committee composed of prior conference organizers and prominent academics and practitioners. All those involved had a commitment to advancing restorative justice theory, values, principles, research and practice.
The 4th National Conference on Restorative Justice in Toledo (June 19-21, 2013) followed the same process. The Lead Organizer was Dr. Morris Jenkins of the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Toledo. He was assisted by Gina Paris, University of Toledo, Helene Sheets, Lourdes University and many others.
It has been our tradition that each local organizing committee sets the theme, identifies the presentation tracks, revises the conference website (www.restorativejusticenow.org) and shapes the look and feel of the conference in creative ways that reflect their community and local culture. In this way we hope attendees experience a rich, new and different with each conference. In 2015, the 5th National Conference on Restorative Justice will be in Florida with Dr. Mara Schiff, Department of Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University as the Lead Organizer. Two years later, the 6th National Conference on Restorative Justice will be held in San Francisco Bay area. Dr. Fania E. Davis, Executive Director of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY) will serve as the Lead Organizer.
In 2011, at Raleigh, NC during the 3rd National Conference on Restorative Justice the members of the National and Local Organizing Committees met over dinner for a discussion of how to provide a legal home for the National Conference on Restorative Justice. The time had come to think about institutionalizing the biannual conference. During that discussion, we decided that we would form a new national association rather than affiliate or join with an existing assocation.
Dr. Michael J. Gilbert of the Department of Criminal Justice, University of Texas at San Antonio and Lead Organizer for the 2009 National Conference on Restorative Justice was appointed as National Organizing Director and given the mission of creating a new national association. He recruited three other people to serve as the Organizing Board of Directors. They were:
- Dr. Fania Davis, Executive Director, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth;
- Professor Jon Powell, Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law, Campbell University; and,
- Professor Joanne Katz, Department of Criminal Justice, Missouri Western State University.
Over the next two years they worked to form the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice (NACRJ). On November 2, 2012 the NACRJ was incorporated in the State of Texas. An application for federal non-profit status is pending approval.
In the development process, the Organizing Board members looks to integrate ways to assist practitioners through the association website. It quickly became clear that they needed efficient access to information to inform their practice and assist them in development of competitive grant proposals. Consequently, the Organizing Board decided to provide an extensive collection of full-text public domain sources organized along several key themes related to community and restorative justice. Bibliographies are currently being developed along these same themes.
Since practitioners generally cannot access millions of proprietary research publications unless they hold a position at a college or university, Organizing Directors worked with Posie Aagaard, MA, Associate Dean of Libraries at the University of Texas at San Antonio to negotiate an affordable contract that would enable up to 300 members access to a search engine for proprietary social science research literature. A nominal user fee is assessed to help generate income needed for contract renewal by the end of January 2014.
On June 19, 2013 the NACRJ was formally introduced to attendees at a luncheon during the 4th National Conference on Restorative Justice. Every registered attendees was afforded an opportunity for free membership for the first year using a discount code. On the last day of the conference the first formal business meeting was held. Approximately 40 attendees participated. At that meeting the Constitution and By-Laws and the Interim Leadership Team (2013-2015) were ratified. Furthermore, the contract with Proquest was approved and the sites for the 2015 and 2017 conferences were approved.
By the time that meeting adjoured at 9 am, the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice was fully and legally formed.
"Shaping Justice for the 21st Century"