Lakes Area Restorative Justice Project revisits Facebook harassment case
“I’m going to run you over with my truck; I’m going to hurt you,” were the threats a Brainerd mother read on her son’s Facebook page. “I felt that I couldn’t protect him because I’m confined to a wheelchair; that’s when I reported these threats to the police.”
The offender and her son had a history of altercations. These Facebook threats resulted in charges filed. The case was referred to Lakes Area Restorative Justice Project (LARJP), a community-based program, staffed by volunteers who facilitate a conference involving victims, offenders, parents and other community members in attempts to right a wrong. In many instances, it is an alternative to court.
At the time of the conference, the person who had made the Facebook threats, as well as another youth who seemed to support the threats, attended the resolution conference. The victim and his father were present; the victim’s mother was not. The victim’s father revealed through a letter the mother wrote that the reason she was confined to a wheelchair was because of a serious car accident involving herself and her other son.
The conference ended with both defendants agreeing to perform 10 hours of community service, and write letters of apology to the victim and mother. In his apology letter to the victim’s mother, the offender wrote: “When your husband read your letter, I started to cry . . . I had no clue and I realize you never know if somebody’s gonna take you seriously.”
This incident happened almost two years ago. Recently, LARJP staff contacted the victim’s mother to see how her son was faring. She said she received and appreciated the letters from the offenders and was touched at how sincere they both were. As for the long term: her son and the offender became friends.
“This (Restorative Justice) is a good program because it makes the kids stop and see that they’re hurting someone. They find out that they are responsible for others and not just making themselves feel good at the time that they’re committing the crime.”
LARJP is looking for volunteers for its program. Training is planned April 27-29 at Central Lakes College. LARJP also extends invitations to the Fourth Annual Spring Gala at Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge, Deerwood, on May 4, for a night of fine food and a youth concert. To make reservations ($35.00/person) or to purchase $5 raffle tickets, go online to www.larjp.org or (218) 568-4145.