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Raphah Institute hosts talks about restorative justice

Posted at 4:37 PM, Mar 09, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — More than 40 people gathered at Vanderbilt University's Divinity School for a conversation about reducing community trauma resulting from teen crimes in Nashville.

Travis Claybrooks is the CEO and founder of Raphah Institute, a non-profit that helps people deal with trauma in society. Part of the strategic meeting on Saturday focused on restorative justice practices.

"Restorative justice is a way that we address a form of trauma that results from crime in our neighborhood. Young people who are arrested for certain felonies can have the opportunity to have conversations with people that they have harmed exploring together ways to repair it," he said.

Claybrooks started a pilot program which allows teen offenders a chance to face victims and mutually fix the problem; if the victims want to do so. The program started in late July 2018 and have looked at 16 cases with the help from the Davidson County Juvenile Justice Center.

"Trauma is public enemy Number One. We have to think about how do we respond to it when it happens. Whether it happens in the form of a crime, abuse, neglect or isolation we want to respond to it restoratively. We also want to respond to the person who is causing it. Often times the person who is causing trauma is also a victim of trauma and so we have to embrace all of that as we respond," Claybrooks said.

"Together we can help Nashville become a trauma-free city. We have it. I think today was a demonstration of people coming together in concrete terms about how to do it and how to get there," Claybrooks said.

Attendees broke out in activity groups and came up with ways to help Nashville's youth who are committing serious crimes.

"That's what's happening right now, the trauma is growing. If you look at the big picture, small amounts of children in Davidson County are responsible for 100 percent of the problems. The community understands that some of the burden is on them as a community to help fix this problem. It's not just a government issue, it's not just a systems issue, it's a community issue," Metro police Lieutenant Blain Whited said.

Whited helps run Metro's Juvenile Crime Task Force. Since January 1st, the Juvenile Crimes Task Force has recovered 46 stolen or carjacked vehicles and seized 39 guns.

"Things look bleak sometimes especially when we're talking about youth. 12-year-old kids going out committing armed robberies that can paint a dark picture of your city. So one, there's a lot of hope left in this city and two, the word community was floated around a lot," Whited said.

Claybrooks said his committee will take the ideas from today's attendees and review them.