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GRETCHEN's STORY (ETHOS Diversion Participant)

It was an extremely effective and powerful experience for me. Actually, one of my agreements is to volunteer for the circle and become an active member of Ethos. I can't think of any other step or program that is closer to what I believe justice is supposed to be. The circle members were empathetic, honest, real, and supportive; no aspect of it felt like punishment or made me feel ashamed or diminished, I sincerely hope Ethos serves as a model for how so-called criminal justice functions in this state and beyond. I am extremely thankful for having been a part of it.

Mike's Story (drc community volunteer)

I have been volunteering with the DRC since 2004. Most of this work is in Ramsey County Court, but I have also mediated at community sites, between neighbors, between townhome associates and owners, and between other groups through DRC.  DRC's presence in Ramsey County Court is critical. I typically volunteer twice a month. Mostly I volunteer in Housing Court, but occasionally I volunteer in Conciliation Court. I would like to provide a Housing Court commentary as an example.

A single mom with two kids had a medical emergency. She couldn't get to work, losing two minimum wage jobs. She was behind in rent for two months and was going to be evicted that day. We sat down to mediate. The landlord did not know any of this information until we began the mediation. Thanks to mediation, she was back to work with two new minimum wage jobs. We set up a plan for her to pay her current rent and back rent timely over several months. She was able to remain in her residence and her kids in the same school. She did not become homeless, and she did not have to move into a shelter. The landlord was paid and now has a good tenant. The landlord agreed that if she met the mediated agreement conditions, he would petition the court to have the unlawful detainer removed from her record! Without mediation, this would not have happened. This was extremely rewarding to me! Everybody won. My term for it? Priceless.

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