Justice Center robbed - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Justice Center robbed

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by Dave Schroeder

They were robbed of justice.

Elkhart's Center for Community Justice was robbed at gunpoint last week.

The center practices Restorative Justice.  The whole mission of the group here is to bring victims and offenders together in aims of reaching restitution.

On April Fool's Day, it was no joke when the CCJ became the victim.

"We like to be able to bring victims and offenders together," said CCJ Executive Director Randy Yohn.

Victims and offenders were brought together at the center on Friday, but not in the way organizers had hoped for.     

"Two black individuals entered the business, one of them displayed a weapon, they demanded cash, and they were able to get away on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash," said Elkhart Police Information Officer Laura Koch.

"We were victims like many other people in the community," Yohn said.

In an ironic twist, the group that values reconciliation over criminal punishment was forced to evaluate where they stood.

"This doesn't change our views on restorative justice.  I think it reinforces it even more with how it's supposed to happen.  We don't change our whole mission statement and reason for being here because of an incident that happened in 15 or 20 seconds," Yohn said.

"I think it's ironic and I think when it came out everyone had the same reaction, like you're saying, why?" Koch said.

That's the big question.  Why? Why would someone rob the CCJ?

And were the robbers offenders already familiar with the CCJ program?

For case worker Jonathan Schrag, those answers matter, but not as much as the message being cultivated at the center.

That message is that restitution is the best route to real justice.

"It benefits both the victim and the offender, and, consequently, our entire society," Schrag said.

Police tell us they have no indication that the robbers were previous offenders who had paid restitution through the program; although Lieutenant Koch does say there is a strong possibility that that may have been the case.

The reason?  Because few people would think to rob the Justice Center if they didn't know about the restitution payments that went through the organization.

Follow Dave on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/DaveS_Fox28

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