Restorative Practices in the Adult Criminal Courts


Tuesday, January 24, 2023
10:15 AM - 11:15 AM
Session Type: Workshop

The Restorative Justice Community Court (RJCC) is the first of its kind in Cook County, Illinois to implement restorative practices in the adult criminal court system. This specialty court is rooted in the belief that repairing harm, building empathy, and restoring community relationships provides a more effective way to prevent, deter and respond to crime. In this workshop, a panel of stakeholders will discuss this court innovation from the inception to current practices, addressing challenges and successes of this criminal justice advancement.


Frederick Cooper
Head Circle Keeper, Circuit Court of Cook County

Frederick Cooper has remained a committed community stakeholder since 2016. He began his circle keeper responsibilities with the RJCC-North Lawndale, and now performs as the head circle keeper for the RJCC-Englewood.

Ofc. Dwayna C Dixon
Restorative Justice Casework Officer, Cook County Social Service Department

My Name is Dwayna Dixon and I am a Probation Officer with the Cook County Social Service Department. I have worked with the Restorative Justice Community Courts (RJCC) since January 2021. I received my B.A. from Northeastern Illinois University in Social Work and Justice Studies and my M.S in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from National Luis University, both in Chicago, Illinois. I worked for over 15 years in corporate America in the financial industry. In addition, I worked as a sexual assault advocate with the YWCA (young women’s Christian association) for several years. I worked as a trained peace circle keeper with Nehemiah Trinity Rising; serving inner-city communities throughout Chicagoland for several years. Moreover, I worked within the non-profit industry serving inner-city communities in several different roles, until coming on-board with the Cook County Social Service Department (pre-trial services) in 2020. Growing up in an inner-city community of Chicago myself, I realized early in life I would help support communities such as where I grew up in some way. I witnessed people with amazing potential but no direction, try to make ends meet for their family. At that time, I made a promise to myself, to always advocate for those whom are unable to do so for themselves. My work at the Restorative Justice Community Courts has afforded me the opportunity to witness young emerging adults attempt to make positive reinforcements in their lives. I am excited every day when I consider all the amazing transformations the participants of the RJCC courts have completed thus far.

Melanie Nuby
, Circuit Court of Cook County

Melanie Nuby’s career spans over 20 years in the Public Defender’s office in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. She has been a committed stakeholder to the RJCC-North Lawndale since the court opened in 2016. This court honored 80 program graduates on 10/13/2022, the largest group of participants since the court opened.