Transformative Justice & Harm Reduction Peacekeeping Circle
Rittenhouse maintains an ongoing monthly Circle for participants of the TJ-HR pilot program to skill share, strategize, process, practice and maintain connection together. Community outreach & harm reduction workers interested in gaining Conflict Negotiation skill building or joining the monthly TJ-HR Peacekeeping Circle contact Coordinator Peter Martin.
Agencies, Organizations and Community Health Centers seeking similar programming for your staff, outreach workers or community leaders are encouraged to contact us for more information.
2013-2019 TJ-HR Program Pilot:
Rittenhouse partnered with several agencies and Community Health Centers (CHC) who work with people who use drugs and face high rates of incarceration, with the vision of reducing incarceration and building community driven responses to injustice. We are driven to action by a few simple facts:
Prison Expansion- Between 2010 and 2012 the Canadian prison population grew by 7%, the equivalent of 2 large prisons. Similarly, Federal corrections spending increased between 2009 and 2014 by 40%.
People Who Use Drugs & Bill C-10 - People who use drugs are amongst the most severely impacted by these changes. Currently, approximately 80% of Canadian prisoners use drugs. Bill C-10 (2012) has led to the increased criminalization of people who use drugs through more frequent charges for less serious offences, and longer prison sentences.
The Impact of Incarceration - This trend is counter to existing research which shows that incarceration has a negative effect on individuals and communities. People who have been in prison lack access to the social determinants of health including stable employment and social supports, and are more likely to experience mental health issues and social isolation.
Public Health - HIV rates are 10 times higher in prisons than the general public, and Hepatitis C rates are 40 times higher. Incarcerated people also face higher rates of overdose, suicide, violence, and other health problems. Since 95% of people in Canadian prisons are eventually released into the community, these harms affect us all.
From 2016-2019 Rittenhouse partnered with Woodgreen, PARC, South-Riverdale CHC, Parkdale Queen West CHC and Toronto Community Housing (250 Davenport location) on an extensive research, training and implementation project. We worked with a 3 stage model, merging the ideas of Transformative Justice (TJ) & Harm Reduction (HR):
1) An Arts Based exploration of justice and injustice related to drug use and criminalization, implemented with people who use drugs either currently or in the past, and had been involved in the legal system.
2) A 12 week training, involving people who use drugs and have been involved in the legal system, exploring models of transformative justice and harm reduction, with the aim of developing a community driven model of conflict resolution to reduce the stigmatization and exclusion of people who use drugs.
3) A 12 week pilot implementation, whereby trained facilitators work to engage in conflict situations, and reduce exclusionary measures which can lead to incarceration and isolation, in local community organizations as well as in the broader community.