MCRC is a not-for-profit community partner arm of HCC. We provide an array of services to the community, most of which are free, and we accept donations to support our mission. MCRC's services can be broadly divided into three programs:
- Community Mediation (CM) is a process that helps people in conflict reach a resolution with the assistance of a neutral, trained professionals.
- Group Facilitation: Some conflicts involve more than two people, and are not suitable for mediation. MCRC can still help using a different conflict resolution process: group facilitation. Successful group collaboration sounds great, but can sometimes feel impossible! Whether your group is a work team, extended family, faith committee, neighborhood association, etc. , interpersonal conflict, differences in perspective, and organizational constraints can paralyze even the best of groups. With a little guidance, however, MCRC can help groups develop a plan to get back on track. MCRC offers neutral, trained group facilitators to help groups find their collective “voice,” use meeting time productively, and smooth their progress toward the common mission.
- Re-Entry Mediation: Re-entry Mediation is mediation provided to participants in a correctional institution who are preparing to re-enter the community on an upcoming release date. The mediation is provided inside the institution for the requesting inmate and his or her outside participants and can increase the chance of success upon release by offering facilitated opportunities to discuss critical issues.
- Victim-Offender Dialogue: Victim Offender Dialogue (VOD) is a voluntary conversation between a victim and the offender who committed the crime against him or her.* VOD provides an opportunity for victims to express feelings directly to their offenders. They are able to let the offender know how the crime has affected their life, and to ask long-unanswered questions. Holding offenders directly accountable through the VOD process is empowering for many victims. VOD offers offenders a rare opportunity to acknowledge responsibility, remorse, and other feelings in a face-to-face meeting with their victim. It provides an opportunity for making things as right as possible, for healing, and for finding a way to positively affect the future.
* VOD is available by victim request only. Offender eligibility requires final determination of guilt and DOC approval, and participation has no effect on legal or institutional status.
MCRC is a state leader in “Restorative Practices,” a broad umbrella of techniques and processes being used in many fields, most notably, conflict resolution, education, juvenile justice, and social work. Restorative Practices offer a fresh perspective on addressing harm, and they work! Some restorative processes, such as Circles, are used regularly to build community. This feeling of community helps to eliminate the social anonymity in which people are most likely to act badly. Using that community force, other restorative tools are then used to address specific harm committed by a member of that community. Restorative processes hold the person who offended the community directly accountable to that community for what he or she did. People are required to put things right before rejoining the community. Restorative practices do not eliminate traditional “consequences,” but greatly reduce the number of times they are needed. Restorative Practices create a path back into community for the person who has done harm which helps reduce the stigmatization and further isolation of the offender – the very conditions that promote reoffending.
MCRC is a community partner that seeks, wherever possible, to help divert students from the “School-to-Prison Pipeline”. We do this by providing a parallel quality restorative intervention process at each place juveniles – and later adults – intersect with the education and then juvenile justice system:
MCRC’s restorative services are offered in several capacities, depending upon the referring partner:
- Restorative Practices in schools are helping to building community at The Homewood Center (now fully restorative, enjoying wonderful results), Oakland Mills High School (detention is now called “Community School”), and Hammond High School (detention is now called “Strategy School”), and many others, including three middle schools and one elementary school. HCC now offers Basic Restorative Practices for Schools as a 1-credit course. MCRC also partners as a consultant with HCPSS schools interested in infusing Restorative Practices into their school community, both helping with design and providing trained volunteers to help with direct services. For more information about bringing Restorative Practices to your school community, please contact KathyRockefeller@howardcc.edu.
- Restorative Dialogue and Restorative Reflections provide juveniles (referred by HCPD’s Youth Services following a first arrest) a way to understand what they did wrong and why it mattered, so that they can be diverted from the juvenile justice system and learn from their experience. Restorative Dialogue and Restorative Reflections are also referred to MCRC by the Department of Juvenile Services and the Office of the State’s Attorney, Juvenile Division, as another service for juveniles who have entered further into the legal system. The process may be in addition to legal consequences for the youth, and is designed to help youths and their families understand why what they did was wrong, plan together to repair the harm, and discuss alternative methods of conflict resolution so that they might avoid additional arrests.
- Prison Re-entry Mediation offers offenders nearing release from the Howard County Detention Center a way to plan the support they need for successful re-entry into their family and community in hopes of smoothing their transition out of prison and reduce the chance of reoffending.
Conflict Resolution Education
MCRC's mission pledges to: "promote peaceful resolution of conflicts by providing quality mediation and conflict resolution services, education and training at HCC and within the larger Howard County community." Many MCRC programs contribute to this portion of our mission:
- AA Degree in Conflict Resolution: See AA Degree Page.
- Annual 40-Hour Basic Mediation Training: See Training and Events Page. MCRC offers one annual 40-Hour Basic Mediation Training. This training is generally offered over three consecutive weekends in April and May (Thursday and Friday evenings + Saturdays, all day). People who complete the course are invited to join the MCRC Volunteer Roster (otherwise closed at this time). Our annual 40-Hour Basic Mediation Training is coordinated by and with HCC's Continuing Education Division and registration generally opens sometime in March. For more information, contact Roxanne Farrar, firstname.lastname@example.org. 100% attendance is absolutely mandatory.
- Conflict Resolution Day Celebration is an open gathering to celebrate international Conflict Resolution Day, which typically falls on the third Thursday in October. For more information on times and location, contact Stephanie Klein, email@example.com.