Evelyn Wald, Executive Director | Centre Alternatives in Community Justice | August 21, 2019
This past January I succeeded Bonnie Millmore as the Executive Director of the Center for Alternatives in Community Justice (CACJ) – a United Way agency. As I began to share the news with people, personally and professionally, almost everyone asked, “What’s that?”. I was shocked that almost no one knew about CACJ, which this year celebrates 40 years of service in Centre County.
In 1979 the initial foci of CACJ were: to educate people about the criminal justice system, and to assist convicted and accused offenders to change their troublesome behaviors. CACJ used community resources to provide alternatives to incarceration.
Today we continue that mission. CACJ has three major programs. First, our Pre-Trial Release program provides an alternative to incarceration for pre-trial individuals charged with bailable offenses. We also assist our clients to obtain needed human services such as finding housing or employment opportunities.
Second, CACJ provides Mediation Services. Mediation is a voluntary process where a neutral party helps guide people to solve conflicts and reach agreements. We work closely with the courts to offer mediation for divorce and child custody cases. We also have mediated disputes between roommates; landlord and tenant; business and consumer; within faith communities and human service organizations: and even disputes between individuals and municipal governments. We provide mediation services on a sliding-fee scale, based on ability to pay. You can call the CACJ office to request mediation.
Third, CACJ’s Youth Aid Panels provide an alternative for addressing juvenile crime in Centre County. A first-time juvenile offender who admits to his or her offense can meet with a panel of volunteer community members to discuss what happened. Panel members write an individual contract to help the youth repair the damage that he or she has done to the community. Youth who complete their contracts have no record of juvenile offense.
Everyone experiences conflict. It is part of our everyday life. We would be happy to provide you with some helpful and insightful information about your own approach to conflict and tools to aid in resolving personal and professional conflicts. CACJ can also provide presentations and trainings about conflict resolution. Our next 24 hour mediation training will occur September 20 – 22, 2019. Contact our office if you are interested in registering.
Please join us for our 40th Anniversary celebration on Friday, August 23, 5:30 – 7:30 PM, at Rhoneymeade Arboretum and Sculpture Garden. Come learn more about our work and meet the major players, past and present, who believe in restorative justice and alternatives to the formal justice system. Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (814) 234-1059.