Criminal Justice Ministries with EMO

"I was in prison and you visited me." Matthew 25:36b
"We are all worth more than the worst thing we have ever done in our life." Sister Helen Prejean

Through Communities of Support & Accountability (CoSA), Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon continues its long-standing endeavor to build a network of faith and community partners who approach the legal system with a restorative justice lens—empowering and equipping the community to help persons impacted by the criminal justice system, including offenders, victims, staff and their families.

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What does "community" really mean?

Communities of Support & Accountability seeks to prevent, end, and help healing from crime and violence. We start with the perhaps radical notion that people whose lives are impacted by crime, violence, and the legal system are part of our community. People who have committed crimes, victims and survivors of crime, professionals in the legal system, and the loved ones of all these people are part of our community. We all must be involved in figuring out what that means for the rest of us. CoSA's ultimate goal is restoring relationship, that all may have a safe, appropriate place in the community. We engage diverse partners for lasting collaboration toward our shared goals of justice, healing and shalom.

Communities Restoring Justice

Restorative justice is a movement that recognizes healing is a process that continues beyond the courts and corrections. Community volunteers can help a person in the legal system deepen social, emotional and spiritual health, increasing their long-term stability. By offering practice in pro-social relationship-building, reentry mentorship is effective as it helps address one of the top criminogenic needs in reentry, that of positive peers and associates. Volunteers choosing to invest their time and energy demonstrate their commitment to building a place for every member of the community—for good. CoSA is a member of the Restorative Justice Coalition of Oregon (RJCO).

Faith & Family Connections

Communities of Support & Accountability helps faith communities walk alongside individuals' families through incarceration and reentry. We coordinate congregational volunteers across the state to help families visit loved ones in prison. We seek to honor the important role family members, especially children, play as they feel the impact of incarceration from both inside and outside.

Dive deep into the ways incarceration impacts families, through this slideshow prepared for CoSA by Portland State University students as part of their senior capstone class for Prof. DeEtte Beghtol Waleed. Watch a short, powerful video in which a woman shares her experiences growing up with a father being arrested and serving a prison sentence. Buckingham, Ispas, Metz, et al. "Incarcerated Women and Drug-Related Charges." Presented at Portland State University, Portland, Ore.; Nov. 28, 2016. 

Policy, Education & Reform

Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon is committed to long-term social good, offering events for individuals and congregations to learn, advocate and serve. Criminal justice issues are an essential part of our events such as Interfaith Advocacy Day and the Collins Lectures, public policy engagement, and interfaith dialogue.

Restorative Justice (RJ), the framework for CoSA:

•  Restorative Justice in a Nutshell - video
•  Neuroscience of Restorative Justice - video
•  NPR article on finding hope in restorative healing after crime