Lac Courte Oreilles Faculty Present on Jail Program in Costa RicaJun 29th, 2016 | By tcj | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
Recent Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College (LCOOCC) graduate and Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe tribal member Lisa Munive, along with LCOOCC faculty Patrick Shields and Trish Hemming, presented on the Oshki Bimaadiziiwin Jail Education Program at the 20th International Restorative Practices Conference in San José, Costa Rica. Munive is completing her bachelor’s degree in social work at the University of Wisconsin, Superior, and is assistant director of the Oshki Bimaadiziiwin program which now serves six county jails. The theme of the conference was “justice, community, and education” and included participants from over 20 countries.
The LCOOCC jail program offers a restorative justice approach to teaching college courses to incarcerated populations in county jails in Northwest Wisconsin. The region is homeland of Ojibwe people whose culture used talking circles to address harms. This methodology is integral to all of the program’s courses.
In many traditional Native American cultures, healing is more important than a punitive approach when social harm occurs. It emphasizes repairing the harm done to people and relationships rather than merely punishing offenders. Formal restorative justice usually brings victim and offender together to address wrongs. In many cases, this is not always possible. In a Eurocentric justice system, the state appropriates the crime and the victim is eventually dismissed from the process.
The informal restorative practices using the Indigenous approach allow students to reflect on how their behavior affects others. Gaining self-awareness helps these self-defeating habit patterns and attempts to restore harmony and balance in individuals and the community. The program’s directors believe that if we want safe communities we need to change current approaches to dealing with offenders. According to the program’s philosophy, if change is going to be effective it must come from within the individual and not be imposed by outside agencies.