The Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast is offering training for volunteer mentors starting Wednesday, Nov. 3 and continuing on the Nov. 10, Nov. 17 and Dec. 1. The trainings will take place at the First Universalist Church on 345 Broadway in Rockland from 5:30 to 8 p.m. A light dinner is provided and attendance at all evenings of the training is expected.

For more information about RJP and to download an application, visit online at www.rjpmidcoast.org or contact the RJP office at 338-2742. Deadline for applications is Oct. 27.

The mission of the Restorative Justice Project is to bring about a cultural shift in the way that the community, law enforcement and the justice system work together to address crime and punishment. Through community conferencing RJP creates a forum for victims to have a voice and gives an opportunity for offender accountability and to acknowledge the impact of their crime on the community. The work of RJP has resulted in significant decreases in recidivism, healing of victims, and transformed lives – rarities within the traditional criminal justice system.

“We have a need for more volunteers in Knox County,” said Margaret Micolichek, executive director of RJP, in a press release. “Participation of community volunteers is critical to the success of this approach to personal and communal healing. With the new Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center in Belfast, we could easily double the number of persons who could benefit from mentoring.”

As mentors the volunteers have the opportunity to work with adolescents or adults involved with the criminal justice system. Volunteer mentors receive training in all program areas in need of volunteer mentoring. They may be involved with an individual anywhere from eight weeks up to 12 months depending on the program and the participant’s individual needs. Training and support are offered throughout their volunteer time.

Working in partnership with the recently created Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center, the former Waldo County Jail located in Belfast, RJP wants to recruit and train additional volunteers. Through mentoring, RJP volunteers help to provide support and direction that an individual needs, to complete a more successful transition back to the community. Residents at the MCRRC are classified as minimum or community level security risks who are six to 18 months from completion of their sentences and will be returning to Knox County. These individuals are considered to be high risk to re-offend without a supportive community. Nationally, 66 percent of individuals released from incarceration reoffend within three years. With support those numbers are drastically reduced to approximately 40 percent.

Through their participation with RJP, MCRRC residents participate in mentoring groups where they learn about restorative justice practices and reflect these practices back to their personal life experiences. Other restorative practices include participation in Community Resolution Conferences, which provide the opportunity for a facilitated conversation to better understand the needs of the resident, their family and the community upon release.

Other program areas within the Restorative Justice Project include the Community Resolution Team (CRT) that provides juvenile offenders an alternative to arrest, adjudication, jail, and probation. Court Deferred Dispositions provide adults facing potential jail time the opportunity to address their crime through a community conference process. The Restorative Practices Collaborative works with schools to change the school climate with regard to behavioral issues resulting in detentions, suspensions and expulsion. For more information, visit RJP’s website at www.rjpmidcoast.org.