Excuse me, your Honor: Let’s talk about Community Justice!

May 9, 2024

A historic, community-driven event, "Excuse me, your Honor! Let's talk about Community Justice" brought together leaders to discuss best practices in community justice from the East Coast and the West Coast with leaders in the PACEs science movement on Sunday, April 21, 2024.

The event, hosted at the Southeastern Live Well Center, involved San Diego-based community groups created to prevent youth gang involvement, make available mental health and trauma recovery resources, and support trauma-resilient education being available for at-promise youth, families, and helping professionals.

Thank you to Crystal Skerven, Chief, Regional Community Coordinator, Office of Equitable Solutions and Communities, HHSA, for generously opening up the beautiful location as it’s closed on Sundays.

Dana Brown, Trauma-Resilient Professional

The idea for the community justice event came following a tour of One Safe Place - North County Family Justice Center which Trish Martinez coordinated through Taraneh Sarebanha, J.D., Assistant Executive Director. Trish, Carey Sipp, and Dana Brown spent quality time at One Safe Place on Friday, January 26, 2024. Lunch together following the tour birthed the idea of planning a community justice event.

Please click here for a one-minute highlight video: Excuse me, your Honor: Let's Talk About Community Justice.

A delicious catered lunch was provided by Timmy's Place with several pizza selections and salad with homemade dressings. Dante Dauz, JD, Director, Community Engagement and Business Development, Union of Pan Asian Communities (UPAC) shared about the homemade cuisines which Timmy’s Place bakes and cooks, in addition to their printing press. Dante encouraged folx to stop by and support them.

D.A. Summer Stephan

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan opened up our event and shared her delight in seeing so many community members attending. D.A. Stephan reflected on the cutting-edge work evolving in San Diego County and how grateful she was for everyone who came on a Sunday to listen, learn, and engage.                

D.A. Stephan introduced both North Carolina’s New Hanover and Pender Counties District Attorney Ben David and New Hanover County Chief District Court Judge J. Corpening II. D.A. David and Judge Corpening have been leading the North Carolina Chief Justices Task Force on ACEs-Informed Courts initiative. Please learn more here;  “Caring for our own” theme emerges at May Meeting of North Carolina Chief Justice’s Task Force on ACEs-Informed Courts.

D.A. David and Judge Corpening shared how they launched their statewide initiative in North Carolina. Their passionate dedication to having every courtroom in the nation ACEs-Informed is tremendously uplifting and hopeful.

Expressing their delight in sharing that initially, they wanted to have an opportunity to spend quality time with Dr.Vincent J. Felitti, Principal Investigator, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE Study).Event organizer, Dana Brown, coordinated Dr. Felitti meeting with D.A. David and Judge Corpening prior to the community event. Excitedly, Dr. Felitti was on a Podcast with them which was filmed in the morning prior to the event!

Judge Corpening

Judge Corpening reflected how deeply meaningful their quality time with Dr. Felitti was and expressed his gratitude to Dana for their initial request becoming a culmination of our community justice event. Judge Corpening shared that there’s nothing in his courtroom today that remotely looks, or sounds like, his courtroom was twelve years ago.

Dr. Vincent J. Felitti shared his thoughts on how the groundbreaking ACE Study research has been intentionally woven through the ACEs-informed courtrooms initiative in North Carolina. Expressing how he has been uplifting seeing how the ACE Study has taken deep roots in several sectors, such as, education, the legal field, foster care, family-serving agencies, Dr. Felitti is truly our Global Hero.

Dr. Vincent Felitti, MD

Judge Corpening and D.A. David listened intently as Dr. Vincent J. Felitti shared his thoughts on how the groundbreaking ACE Study research has been intentionally woven through the ACEs-informed courtrooms initiative in North Carolina.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Tracy Prior shared about San Diego County’s  One Safe Place - North County Family Justice Center  in San Marcos. The moving video D.A. Prior shared reflected the thoughtful, intentionality of the brain/heart child of D.A Stephan and D.A. Prior. All the culturally-responsive services supporting children, youth, and families are free for anyone residing in the county. Truly a one-stop service provider for children, youth, and families, the Care Rooms are private rooms and all the services come to meet with the families there. Our San Diego District Attorney’s Office One Safe Place in San Marcos and Your Safe Place in San Diego downtown courthouse are the only Family Justice Centers in our nation that have humanized every single aspect of serving children, youth, and families.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Tracy Prior

Community Wraparound CEO/President, Robert Ontiveros, shared some background on their natural support wrapping around justice-impacted youth and families throughout San Diego County. They are in several Learn4Life learning centers in San Diego County, the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Center, and the Youth Transition Campus.

Emilio Galvan, Project Director, Community Wraparound, invited some Community Mentors and Case Managers to share their hearts about their engagement with mentees, families, and school staff.

Community Mentor, Christina Vargas, reflected on her wisdom gained from lived experiences that she shares with the mentees and expands their understanding on how childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences can have long-lasting impacts. Additionally, building trusted relationships with caring adults helps build resilience.

Christina Vargas

Case Manager, Kimberly Riveros, reflected on how they go with the mentees and families to court, and are available when law enforcement officers contact them to support a youth with a cool bed and not being incarcerated. The trusted relationships Kimberly and her colleagues have with the mentees and their families are life-changing.

Community Mentor, Scotty Graham, reflected on his life’s journey and transformation. Working in North County Learn4Life schools, Scotty shared his heart on why building trust with the mentees and their families are so vital to the natural support of wrapping around the families.

Victor "Miko" Carrasco

Community Mentor, Victor “Miko” Carrasco, meets youth in the east Mesa Juvenile Detention Center and supports their time in the juvenile-justice system and when they reenter into the communities. Miko shared that his many years of incarceration have brought him profound wisdom with helping the youth have a deepened understanding of the complex traumas of being incarcerated on the individual, their families, and all loved ones.

Dana Brown shared about the Trauma-Resilience Professional (TRP) Certification through the Trauma Resilient Educational Communities (TREC) Model. All of Community Wraparound are becoming TRP Certified and Community Wraparound is becoming an accredited Trauma-Resilient Organization. Generously, TREC provided funds for the lunch from Timmy’s Place. Thank you, Craig Beswick!

Rand Courtney, filmmaker, Creative Deviants, came down from Los Angeles, along with his colleague, Eric Reid, and shared how they followed five Learn4Life students from Pacoima for two years. A tragedy happened and the powerful documentary, La Lucha | Getting Schooled in America was viewed during our community justice event.

A historic event and an exceptionally inspirational day! The intention of the community-driven event was for community members to be uplifted and hopeful knowing what D.A. David and Judge Corpening are leading with the North Carolina Statewide ACEs-informed Courtrooms and what D.A. Stephan and Chief Deputy D.A. Prior are leading in San Diego County with the humanized Family Justice Centers.

The sister cities on the East Coast with Wilmington, N.C, and West Coast with San Diego are a model for our nation on what equity-focused policies and practices look like. Having the grass-roots (community members, youth, families) and grass-tops, District Attorneys and

Judges engaged with trust-building and transforming how systems support the well-being of children, youth, and families.

A historic day indeed!

Dana Brown

Community Organizer, Trauma-Resilient Professional, TREC Pioneer, and PACEs Science Statewide Facilitator

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