COVID-19 – Reduced Services

Due to the national emergency and current CDC recommendations regarding the COVID-19 virus, CJAM will cease holding in-person meetings until at least April 6, 2020.  During this time, the CJAM offices will be closed to visitors and staff.  We will continue to take referrals, each case being handled individually with phone or video conferencing when appropriate or as available.  To request services, refer a client, or ask questions, please email or call our office at 812-336-8677 and leave a message.

Complete March 16th Press Release: COVID-19 Closure announcement

February’s Basic Mediation and Restorative Justice Training

February brought another installment of CJAM’s 40 Hour Basic Mediation and Restorative Justice Training.  Participants met for five days over a three-weekend span (Feb. 15, 16, 22, 23, & 29) to debate the meaning of justice, learn the basics of mediation and restorative justice, and partake in a number of roleplays to hone their newly acquired skills.

We are super thankful to our trainers, Ed Greenebaum and Nick Philbeck, for leading the group, and mediators John Alme, JaneAnn Gifford, and Diane Legomsky for their assistance throughout.

CJAM wins Schreck Community Award

CJAM wins Schreck Community Award

Each year the IU Bloomington Dean of Students presents awards to faculty, staff, students, and community members in recognition of outstanding contributions to the Division of Student Affairs. Nominations are made by Division members and reviewed by the Award Committee. CJAM mediator Sarah Walton Kinney graciously nominated CJAM and co-presented the award with Dean of Students, Dave O’Guinn, at the May 9th event. Learn more about the event and other award winners on the Dean of Students May 2019 blog.

Photos credit: IUB Division of Student Affairs

Escaping the Thief Label, Making Amends, and Moving Forward. A reflection on STEP

CJAM volunteer Amani Khoury reflects on her experience attending STEP, CJAM’s Shoplifting and Theft Education Program…

Everyone is seated at a table, looking slightly uninterested and hesitant at the same time.  The mediator clears his throat and asks everyone to share their names.  His voice has a calming presence.  They slowly make their way around the table, with the tension gradually dying as more voices are heard; they are all in this together.  Their stories are different, with unique motivations and feelings about what had happened, but one outcome was the same, they had all ended up here.  They felt hurt, cheated, frustrated, and as the night went on, the root of these feelings became clear.  These people were stuck in a system that they felt they could not escape, and were worried they had earned their “thief” label for life.

There is a stigma surrounding anyone who has committed a crime, whether it was a small lapse in judgment or a premeditated, calculated attack; we see them differently.  They are “others”.  We think we’d never do something like that, and since we think we will never be associated with that group, we judge them.  After hearing their stories, I began letting go of my harsh judgments.  These people described their misdemeanors as “a moment of weakness” and something that “does not fit their personal character”.  This one act is not their whole story.  People are too quick to write each other off; we must be more open to objectively listening to stories such as these.  We cannot let someone’s “moment of weakness” be the moment that defines their entire life.

As I learned more about the people participating in the restorative justice process, I felt closer to them, something that is vital if the stigma surrounding offenders is going to be lifted.  There were two stories in particular to which I felt I could personally relate.  One was the story of a quiet, teenage girl who had stolen some clothing because she did not have anything that fit her anymore.  She expressed how she felt embarrassed and just wanted to fit in.  The other, a girl who was on a strict budget but was very insecure about her skin, had decided to take a tube of concealer.  These girls did not fit the stereotype I had created of someone who would steal.  They stole because they felt they had no other options.  I know the pressure society places on girls to look their best, and sometimes feeling like you will never measure up.  I understand that they felt like they had no other option.  While their motivations had driven them to more desperate measures than I would have taken, I too, have felt those same pressures.  As I heard their stories, I lost some unsubstantiated judgments and began to gain empathy.

Restorative justice is here to help people move forward from their mistakes by taking genuine responsibility for their actions, by making plans to avoid these behaviors in the future, and by making amends.  They had been labeled, lost trust within their families, lost employment opportunities, fallen out of relationships, and generally were ashamed. Not only does this give offenders the opportunity to have one-time mistakes expunged from their records, it helps them learn from the mistake, reinforcing values they may have already held or possibly giving them a new perspective and altering their values in favor of a better life.  It gives a second chance.

CJAM’s first annual women’s event – Part 2

After attendees were treated to a delicious mix of hors d’oeuvres, had a chance to purchase CJAM jam (yes, the stuff you put on toast), and learned more about the work of CJAM, IU Maurer School of Law student LaShaila Spivey introduced the featured panel members:

  • Erika Oliphant detailed her journey from stagehand, through law school, and now Monroe County’s first elected woman prosecuting attorney. She shared stories about how, as a women trial attorney, she was often judged on her appearance and instructed to do things like always wear a skirt and wedding ring.  Oliphant notes that she learned early on that to succeed, she always needed to be the most prepared person in the room, further sharing that, after she showed consistent competency in the court room, she eventually became respected amongst colleagues in this often male dominated field.  She shared other challenges faced during her career and recent campaign, but ended by calling 2018 the “year of the woman” and discussing how the increase in activism by women, especially young women, has been a driving force for moving us forward.
  • Deborah Widiss, a professor at IU’s Maurer School of Law, focuses her teaching and research on employment law, family law, and the significance of gender and gender stereotypes in the development of law and government policy. Widiss started by talking through some of the many gender stereotypes that still exist, including the assumption that women with a family won’t be able to or want to focus as much on work.  She shared a bit about her research and recent trip to Australia to study their paid parental leave policies, noting that the U.S. is out of step with the rest of the world in terms of their support for parents.  Little by little, though, Widiss says that we’re starting to see an increase in focus on these areas here.  An increased awareness of women’s issues, millennial dads wanting to be more involved, and a growing elder population, according to Widiss, have helped bring more attention to the need for flexible family related policy.  Six states and D.C. now have paid leave laws, while 20+ states now have policies to better support pregnant women.  And for the first time, she’s seeing both political parties talking about paid leave – an optimistic sign for continued progress.
  • Amelia Lahn self-identified as a second-generation attorney and shared insight into her upbringing, surrounded by women attorneys and other strong female mentors, and how this has helped shape her work today. She is one of the first women to lead a solo law practice in the Bloomington area and spoke mostly of her focus on Title IX law.  Title IX essentially aims to ensure that everyone has equitable experiences and opportunities despite gender.  Lahn compared the evolution of Title IX law with the more recent advancement of employment law – in the past, many complaints went unheard and some were even reprimanded for speaking up.  We’re now seeing more policy directives and leadership taking action, thus more and more complaints are being addressed.  Lahn spoke about the complexities of these types of cases, especially at the college level, and her aim to help ensure that the processes are fair to all parties.

Follow up comments and question areas included, the impact of moving the adjudication of Title IX cases from school to court on minority students, maintaining work/life balance, and responding to reports of harassment or similar experiences.

CJAM was delighted at the turnout and participation in this first Women, Justice, and Equity event – We’ve Come a Long Way…Maybe?  Thank you to all supporters, attendees, and panelists.  We look forward to seeing you next year!

We’ve Come a Long Way…Maybe? – CJAM’s first annual women’s event

More than sixty supporters gathered at the FAR Center for Contemporary Art on Wednesday evening for CJAM’s first Women, Justice, and Equity event – We’ve Come a Long Way…Maybe?  The event, co-sponsored by the Feminist Law Forum, featured appetizers, community networking, a lively panel discussion, and several opportunities to support CJAM’s work.  Attendees included various local government representatives, court and probation staff, neighbors, friends, other supporters, and even the mayor!

CJAM Executive Director, Liz Grenat, prefaced the panel with some information about CJAM and key reasons for the night’s gathering:

  • CJAM’s focus on community and finding common ground. These are core tenants of mediation, but also in CJAM’s vision of a fair community that learns from conflict, prevents harm, and grows in understanding.
  • Financial support for the important work of CJAM. Funds raised during the evening will go toward training and educational programs, including scholarships for CJAM’s 40 hour basic medication training, helping to keep these valuable opportunities accessible to as many as possible.
  • Recognition of the Women of CJAM recently winning the Toby Strout Lifetime Contribution Award! CJAM volunteers range in age from 19 to 92, and two of CJAM’s founding women, Roberta Wysong and Iris Kiesling, were present and introduced.  Liz continued to highlight other CJAM women as she detailed the mediator training and mentoring process, taking it from apprentice through senior mediator roles.

If you missed the event – there’s still time to support the important work of CJAM by visiting our Donate page.  To read more about what was shared by our featured speakers Erika Oliphant, Deborah Widiss, and Amelia Lahn, check out this second post, CJAM’s first annual women’s event – Part 2 (

Women of CJAM receive the Toby Strout Lifetime Contribution Award

CJAM is delighted and honored to have been awarded the Toby Strout Lifetime Contribution Award as a token of appreciation for the diligence exhibited by our women mediators and volunteers over the past year. Along with other inspirational women in Bloomington, the women of CJAM were recognized at the Women’s History Month Luncheon on March 20, 2019 for their continuation of the progress made by woman throughout history!

CJAM has thirty women mediators and another twenty-two women volunteers who have devoted time, passion, and focus towards halting patterns of wrongdoings in the Bloomington area. CJAM women have stood up to the challenges involved in mediation, taken leadership positions, and upheld a high degree of patience and empathy. These characteristics are synonymous to those once held by activist, Toby Strout.  One of Strout’s contributions to the betterment of our community was her 30-year long role as the executive director of Middle Way House, an organization that provides supportive and empowering services for survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence, stalking, and human trafficking.

During the luncheon, the Woman of the Year award was also presented to Mary Goetz for her attentiveness towards the effects of incarceration on children and the community. Goetz founded the Kids with Absent Parents and Read-to-Me programs which provide support for children of incarcerated persons. Beyond heading these programs, Goetz is an active member of other organizations focused on providing support to current inmates and easing the difficulties faced by ex-offenders upon release.

Congratulations to Mary Goetz and the Women of CJAM!