It’s costing too much and hurting us all. But we are standing at a pivotal moment where the conversation has begun in earnest about shifting power back to the community as a more effective way to ensure peace, make communities safer and provide equity for everyone.
At Lawndale Christian Legal Center (LCLC), from the moment we began over a decade ago, that’s what we’ve been dedicated to and working for — providing community-led, holistic criminal legal defense to young people in North Lawndale. In 2021 we began working in three other Chicago neighborhoods as well – Austin, East Garfield Park and Little Village – through the formation of Justice Rising: Project 77, a coalition committed to community-based restorative justice throughout the 77 neighborhoods of Chicago.
Everything we do is centered around defending young people, keeping them out of prison, and surrounding them with resources to address the systemic problems threatening their future. We involve the community in seeking justice. We believe it is the most effective way to build a system that is fair for everyone.
This is a restorative justice program supported by holistic social and legal services that walks juveniles and emerging adults through, and away from, the court system for good. Through our work, we’ve been helping transform young lives tangled in a deeply flawed system, and inspiring hope in places where hope has been hard to come by.
We work every day to break the arrest/incarcerate/release/repeat cycle that continues to threaten young lives, destroy families, and decimate the North Lawndale community. Our services are free of charge. And we have walked over a thousand of our young clients through, and away from, the criminal justice system for good.
Our experienced case managers lead a team that develops a personalized game plan of wraparound supports to meet our clients’ goals and needs. Our outreach workers build trust to encourage their active participation in the plan. And we stay committed to them for as long as they need our support.
LCLC also leads a groundbreaking collaboration between the North Lawndale Community Restorative Justice Hub and the Circuit Court of Cook County who created the first-ever Restorative Justice Community Court (RJCC) in North Lawndale. The RJCC negotiates peace within the community and helps emerging adults find a more constructive solution to repair harm than incarceration.