Restoring Justice, Restorative Justice
by Erin Prewitt on June 15th, 2015

Earlier this week I was invited to the Restorative Justice Conference here in Ventura County, to share my story of the loss of Chris and how I responded to the woman who killed him. What I find compelling about restorative justice is the opportunity for people like me, who in the eyes of the courts are considered a victim, to have access to more options when addressing the person(s) who victimized them or their loved one.  Following Chris’s death, the only option I was given during the sentencing process was to plead my case with the judge and basically hope for the best.  The District Attorney’s office, recommended Shante (the woman who killed Chris) be sentenced to prison for 4-6 years.  I did not agree with them, I wanted 5 years of probation with intensive services for her and her family, with no prison time.  I was seeking justice.  I was seeking a justice that I felt was appropriate and allowed room for redemption.  However, our County does not currently have “other” practicing options for victims who seek justice the way I was seeking it.  I found it upsetting when I heard from the courts that they would seek justice, asking for prison time, on behalf of me, my daughter, my family, my community.  I was upset because sending this woman to prison was not going to get me any closer to the healing or peace I was seeking.

That day in the courtroom when the judge sentenced Shante to four years in prison was the first time I became seriously pissed off!  Months earlier my husband was killed.  I was coping with the loss of his death and floundering in so many areas of my life.  But there was one area where I felt clear.  As the victim of the crime to my Husband I wanted an impactful say regarding Shante’s sentencing, I wanted my requests to be heard and included.  I was pissed because although the justice I sought was heard by the judge and said to be compelling and even compassionate, in the end it was disregarded, because in the end she was given prison time. 

I see restorative justice as an opportunity for victim’s to have a say.  It gives us opportunity to have a place at the table of justice (if so desired by the victims).  It allows us to participate in the whole process, from the initial sentencing possibly to how to the person that committed the crime reenters the community after serving their sentence.  Restorative justice has elements of healing not only for the direct victims of the crime, but also community members who were impacted by the crime.  I never got a place at the table.  I never got the justice I begged for.  It is my wish and deepest hope (for my community and all the communities across the country) that victims are not only heard, but their requests are actually weighted in the court proceedings.  For me, a life was lost the day my Husband was killed on April 6, 2014.  And sadly, months later another life was lost on June 24th, 2015 when a young 22 year old woman with no prior crimes was sentenced to prison and branded a felon for the rest of her life.  I don’t think my version of justice should be forced on any other victim of a crime, nor should a one size fits all form of justice be forced on me.

Posted in not categorized    Tagged with Love, Healing, Justice, forgiveness, forgiveness


Anna - June 15th, 2015 at 8:52 PM
Agreed! I think the only way for us to regain the essence of justice in our legal system is for these processes to be developed -- restorative justice, and insight into what it means to have so many people in prison to our communities. Thanks for continuing this struggle.
John Jenks - June 16th, 2015 at 5:28 PM
God bless you Erin! Chris was an amazing man and you and your family are remarkable! I've worked in the criminal justice system for 40 years and I have been beating my head against the wall seeking restorative justice. If there is ever anything I can do to help please do not hesitate to contact me.

May God continue to bless you and your family.
monica Richards - June 17th, 2015 at 8:56 AM
Just returned from a trip with my students to our nation's capital where we saw the original Bill of Rights on display and realized that our forefathers had stories like this in mind when they framed the Constitution. Of the four pages, two are dedicated to the PEOPLEs power, 2/3 of a page to presidential power and 1/3 to Court's power... your story speaks direct truth. Thank you for sharing. I pray peace and comfort into your journey to rebuild your life and that you continue advocating for others going through the process. Monica Richards- Pueblo, CO
Claudine - June 17th, 2015 at 3:39 PM
Erin, your compassion is amazing!

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