Aug 6, 2020
I am writing to welcome the folks who will be serving on the Equity Committee set up by the City Council. I am looking forward to listening to your thoughts, demands and ideas for making this a better community. I know most of you personally and feel it an excellent group of thinkers and doers.
Oregon has the dubious distinction of being the only state that had exclusion of African Americans written into its first Constitution. The statistics for incarceration of minorities, especially for drug crimes, are an embarrassment to our legal system. Medford still had a Sundown Law on its books when I move here in 1978, although it was not enforced. I don’t suggest wallowing in the past but it is hard to measure progress without looking back to where we come from.
I don’t know what a group of White, well-off, elected officials can contribute to your efforts but I believe we must listen, not try to run the show. My ears will be open and my mouth shut for the most part. I have spent my whole life in small towns filled with nobility, wisdom and narrow-mindedness. The guy with the confederate flag mask calling young people the N word is not unfamiliar to me. He’s the same man who would have dumped a milkshake on John Lewis’ head at the Woolworth counter in the South. He acts out of hatred, fear and loathing and must be met with firm resolve and bravery. Likewise institutional barriers to equal access in all areas must be confronted and removed.
There is no easy time to be dealing with these difficult issues but the COVID Pandemic has made even the most mundane activities complicated. Still the issue of equality cannot be delayed or denied any longer. Let us seek each other’s wisdom and counsel for as a wise man once said “We are all just walking each other home”.
Phil Studenberg, Attorney at Law PC
Klamath Falls City Council Ward 1
422 Main, Suite 201
Klamath Falls, Or. 97601
July 20, 2020
Restorative Justice is a movement and project that has many prongs on its fork.
First, a crime is committed against a person or property. The alleged perpetrator is arrested and charged with the DA defined crimes. There are three outcomes.
1. Charges are dropped due to lack of evidence (but the arrest is on the person’s record).
2. Alleged perpetrator takes a plea negotiation, admitting guilt to some degree, and serves his/her time in custody.
3. A jury trial can result in a guilty, not guilty, or charged with lesser crimes.
Second, with any of the three outcomes listed above, a mediator and advocates for the offender and the victims, are appointed. Their first interest is to reconcile the community in which the alleged crime was committed and the offender.
Third, the District Attorney and presiding judge MUST buy in to the “sentence” of restorative justice. This a practiced advocate within the judicial system to assure that all legal parties agree.
Fourth, the offender, victims, DA’s office advocate, and community must meet in a neutral location to establish trust and truthfulness. A fair and courteous dialogue must occur between the four entities. The advocates and mediator are there to ensure this.
Finally, in a consensus, the group can determine what the offender can actively do to demonstrate repentance, reparations, and respect for all who were affected. If this is done, then the offender does not face jail time, victim/community shunning, or a record of conviction (expungement). In fact, the offender becomes a valued member of the community and receives forgiveness from the victim(s).
This is true rehabilitation and reintegration. The community might receive grants to support the offender’s housing and human needs.
This is dignity without borders.