Ulster County Executive Ryan Announces Packed Fall Lineup at the Restorative Justice and Community Empowerment Center

Posted September 27, 2019

KINGSTON, N.Y. – Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan today announced a packed fall lineup at the Restorative Justice and Community Empowerment Center (RJCEC), including a variety of seminars and groups focusing on employability, self-improvement, and as well as new comprehensive programming designed to help break the cycle of general poverty.

“As County Executive, advancing, improving, and redefining justice in Ulster County is one of my ‘Big Five Priorities,’” said County Executive Pat Ryan. “The Restorative Justice and Community Empowerment Center, along with exciting programs sponsored by nonprofits, local businesses, and residents, ensures that we are starting the process of giving our community members the tools they need to start to break the cycle. I am committed to working with the public and stakeholders to ensure that we continue to expand the Restorative Justice and Community Empowerment Center for the benefit of Ulster County.”

The RJCEC will be a home for organizations to provide skills-based trainings, knowledge sharing, and community building opportunities. Although some are closed groups, many are open to the public. Between now and December, the RJCEC will be the host of many events including a Job Fair for the 2020 Census, anger management groups, a mindfulness group, an “Insider Tips for Job Searches” seminar, an “Exploring Jobs that are in Demand” seminar, and certification trainings in NARCAN, an opioid antagonist used for the complete or partial reversal of an opioid overdose. There are 11 more seminars, groups, and workshops in the pipeline to be scheduled, and more on the way.

On October 13, the RJCEC will also be participating in the O+ festival by hosting a screening of Resilience, a film that is an exploration into the developments of medical studies where conditions like heart disease can be linked to childhood experiences. The RJCEC will also provide education on trauma informed care during the festival. The screening will be open to the public.

Kim Mapes, the Youth and Family Engagement Coordinator who oversees the RJCEC is “thrilled to be increasing the programming of the center. Our goal is to have the RJCEC be a vibrant center filled with events and groups that help to lift up the entire community. We look forward to continuing to grow and increase our event lineup.”

“We are thrilled that County Executive Ryan’s new administration has taken charge of the Restorative Justice and Community Empowerment Center and is putting the community’s vision into action,” Executive Director of Harambee and member of the Ulster County Restorative Justice Advisory Committee Tyrone Wilson said. “It is imperative that we take a new approach to the way we divert youth from the justice system. Through the Center, positive workshops and inventive new approaches will produce results that will not only benefit those participating but the entire community.”

The RJCEC also provides Restorative Justice programming including the new Brighter Futures Initiative which involves key interventions to help break the cycle of generational poverty, and which will serve as a model for further efforts by the County and its partners. The first cohort is starting this fall with 20 youth ages 16 to 20 who are at risk and who have not yet completed high school. Students will receive services such as tutoring, mentoring, counseling, and employment training's. Parents will also be required to participate in the program and will receive workforce trainings and additional services as needed.

Students who participate in this program will also be placed in the care of the Assistant Youth and Family Care Coordinator and an individual service plan (ISP) will be developed to set goals and objectives. The coordinator will assist the participating youth with achieving goals goal set forth in the ISP. Potential services that could be offered based on individual ISPs include Phoenix Academy placement (or a similar alternative education programming), tutoring, mentoring, employment training, mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, transportation subsidies, work clothing subsidies, internship stipends and recreation subsidies.

“The County of Ulster has embarked on a new challenge of Restorative Justice Practices,” Director of the Youth Bureau and Director of Human Rights Commission Nina Dawson said. “The newness of teaching youth as opposed to immediate incarceration allows the opportunity to save and possibly redirect a child's life.  Ulster County is on the forefront of finding new relatable programs that assist in ending the beginning of the cycle of Prison and Recidivism. The intention is to institute victim services, victim-offender mediation, offender responsibility through peace circles, family support services and community involvement. The Ulster County Restorative Justice and Community Empowerment Center will be the model for restorative justice practices.”

“We spoke with Pat Ryan and his team and are encouraged that he is taking the time to speak with the community and to build a restorative justice and community empowerment program that listens to and strengthens the community in Ulster County,” Rev. Dr. G. Modele Clarke, Senior Pastor at the New Progressive Baptist Church said. “We look forward to our continued partnership as we grow these important programs.”

Any organization who is providing relevant programming is encouraged to fill out a short application at least three weeks in advance. Email Kim Mapes at kmap[at]co.ulster.ny[dot]us to receive this form. Space is available to provide skills-based trainings, knowledge sharing, and community building opportunities for free on a first come, first served basis subject to County approval and staff availability.