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Pumpkins Placed Downtown Through Chillicothe Correctional Center's Restorative Justice Program
C-T 10 06 17

Downtown Chillicothe is decorated for fall with the addition of pumpkins placed at the entrances of businesses around the square. The pumpkins were grown in the gardens at Chillicothe Correctional Center through the Restorative Justice Program. More than 800 pounds of pumpkins have been picked to date. Shelley Staton and Shona Simpson, institutional activities coordinators at CCC, recently placed the pumpkins outside businesses to add a bit of fall decoration tot he downtown area. So far this year, the CCC Restorative Justice gardens have produced around 5,000 pounds of produce for distribution to area pantries and shelters.

The Restorative Justice Program at CCC provides many ways for offenders to give back to victims of crime and the most vulnerable citizens in the community, said Staton, who also serves as the reentry coordinator and Restorative Justice coordinator. Sewing, crocheting, quilting, gardening, training of dogs and a variety of other projects are offered to those who qualify to participate. Periodically, offenders are allowed to check out a variety of project kits. The kits can then be constructed in the offender's room, with a deadline date for the project to be turned in. Once the projects are complete and returned, the offender receives RJ hours for their labor. The items are then donated to area shelters, churches, nursing homes, pantries, schools or whoever is in need.

Shelley Staton (left) and Shona Simpson (right), institutional activities coordinators at Chillicothe Correctional Center,
stopped by downtown businesses recently delivering pumpkins that were grown at the correctional center through the
restorative justice program. The Constitution-Tribune office was among the stops they made. They are shown here with
Jaime Saucedo, a C-T reporter. C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley

During 2016, CCC offenders have volunteered approximately 129,000 hours, Staton said. Approximately 2,550 items have been delivered to those in need, with an estimated 40 different agencies and individuals benefiting. A total of 17,000 pounds of produce was presented to local agencies and pantries needing assistance. "The hours offenders put into this program benefit the agencies and teach offenders how to be caring and compassionate toward others," Staton said. "They learn to put other's needs above their own." Offenders can receive hours for participating in different projects; facilitating Impact of Crime on Victims classes, training and assisting with Puppies for Parole dogs, crocheting, sewing and quilting community projects and volunteering in the gardens. The materials are purchased with proceeds earned from the Restorative Justice Organization fundraisers throughout the year. The best-seller is the greeting cards. Over the past few years, the organization has purchased new sewing machines, quality irons, and garden supplies.

Donations are also a huge contribution to the program and can be accepted from the public (no cash). If you or someone you know would like to donate fabric, yarn or other craft supplies, please contact: Shelley Staton at Chillicothe Correctional Center, 3151 Litton Road, Chillicothe, MO 64601, by phone at 660646-4032, or via email.

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