Reed Tribute to Justice Assistance Founder, Jonathan Houston
REED: Madam President, today I pay tribute to a dear friend and one of Rhode Island's most thoughtful and visionary civic leaders, Jonathan ``Jon'' Houston. After 45 years of tireless advocacy, Jon will be relinquishing his role as executive chairman of Justice Assistance, the nonprofit organization he founded both to assist victims of crime and to provide meaningful support for ex-offenders.
I have been privileged to know Jon since our time together as students at La Salle Academy in Providence, RI. After high school, Jon went on to graduate from the University of Rhode Island before completing advanced management certification programs at Harvard and Salve Regina University. He also served on a number of public safety boards and commissions in Rhode Island, but his vision in founding Justice Assistance in 1978 stands as a signature achievement in the area of criminal justice reform.
It is no small task to radically change the way we treat and look at victims of crime, nor is it easy to take on the challenges facing former offenders after they have completed their sentences, but that is why Jon has become such a respected figure in the community. He has dedicated his life to a problem that few others were stepping up to solve. And Justice Assistance has been enormously successful. According to the Providence Journal, Justice Assistance's sentencing alternative program--one of the organization's major initiatives--has collected over $5 million in restitution on behalf of victims of crime, and 90 percent of its court-referred clients successfully complete its ex- offender intervention and support programs. Justice Assistance's success is a testament to Jon's tenacity and devotion.
Rhode Islanders have been fortunate to have Jon dedicate more than four decades to strengthening our communities and developing systems of support for those who may otherwise not have had any. I, too, have experienced Jon's knowledge, insights, and humility on criminal justice reform when I worked with him to increase Federal support for innovative and transformative solutions to recidivism and for victim protection.
Jon has undoubtedly made a mark on Rhode Island. His work and advocacy have directly impacted the lives of thousands who have come in contact with our criminal justice system. Through Justice Assistance, Jon's work will continue to improve lives of victims and offenders for years to come, but this won't be the only way his mission carries on after the mantle is passed. Jon was the primary author of the ``Rights of Victims of Crime'' amendment in the State constitution, the first constitutional amendment in the Nation dedicated to protecting the rights of crime victims. In a very literal sense, Jon's passion and words have been permanently added to the foundational document of the state.
I would also like to take the time to recognize Jon's wife Pamela, his daughter Shannon, and his son Adam. I join many others in the State in thanking Jon for his service to our communities and the well-being of those impacted by crime. I wish him fulfillment and continued success in his next chapter.