Contolling my thoughts – an experiement that is working!

We are all both people and professionals.  This is blog about Restorative Justice and Circle process, my professional life..   Yet I find myself sharing personal experiences, and also coined a term “over-blogging”.  And here I am with what I think is a valuable tool, wanting to share it.  If you are a better person, you naturally are a better professional.  So I’ll share the tool and the personal story, even at the risk of feeling like I’ve “over-blogged”.

I picked this up from a website called 2KnowMySelf.  I purchased the e-book “How to get over anyone in a few days”.  As you can guess, I recently broke up with someone.  We dated, with a few break ups for about 9 months, stayed broke up for 3, with some ‘try’s’ in there.  We didn’t quite make it a month this last time.  So this has been complicated or actually maybe, simple I guess.  He and I are not meant to be!  I needed to stop trying to make it happen.

That’s the background and here’s the tool!  Controlling your own thoughts.  My thoughts when we are broke up remember all the good times, the rosy rememberance trap.  My thoughts are that I can try harder.  He’s got these good qualities.  So I go back, to be disappointed, frustrated, etc.

Here’s the deal – – the stages of grief:  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.  Kubler-Ross Model.  I believe in one more at the end, called Recovery or Resolution.  Thankfully I learned these in college, and was taught that we can go thru these stages for both big & little things. 

Side Story:  It’s 1992 I’m a grad student, getting a Masters in Counseling.  Driving around with my boyfriend at the time, he prefers getting pop out of popmachines, it’s cheaper than the gas station.  He has a favorite outside of a hardware story.  I stay sitting in the passenger seat of his truck, he goes to the pop machine.   I see him work thru the stages, just from observation.  He gets in truck, says “I’m not coming to this machine again”.  I bust out laughing and tell him, “oh you got to resolution”.  The farm boy from North Dakota is not so amused.  I have to explain that in class that day, I learned the 5 stages of grief, and the teacher explained it with the example of not getting pop out of a pop machine.  He also executed the entire example perfectly.

He put his money in, pushes the Coke.  No pop.  Denial sets in, he pushes the Coke button again.  No pop.  Anger as he clubs the side of the machine.  No pop. Bargaining starts, he tries Dr. Pepper instead, then diet Coke.  No pop.  His head tilts to the left, shoulders drop in a deep sigh (Depression).  No pop.  He turns back to the truck (Acceptance).  When he said “I’m not coming back” that was his resolution. 

Back to present day.  I am recently broke up, spending the holidays alone (my kid is with her Dad).  The ex is only a ‘mending’ phone call away.  So when I start to think about things being better (denial or bargaining).  I stop my brain and say “I am in RECOVERY stage”.  That means my thoughts go to improving myself!  I am literally short circuting my brain to what I want.  It’s really cool!

I was exercising at the YMCA yesterday, I’ve got plans to work on my self-discipline.  My house is spotless, I even cleaned my kids room.  I want to be productive and successful.  I have felt great, better than anyone would guess for someone spending Christmas alone and two days after a breakup.

Give it a try with your thoughts – – see what stage your thinking is and move to another one.  It’s working for me.

Article posted in from a Facebook Friend

Restorative Justice:
A Dream of Restoration and Transformation

Artika Tyner

I have a dream that we won’t have to talk about ‘restorative justice’ because it will be understood that true justice is about restoration, and about transformation. I have
a dream. – Dr. Howard Zehr

Once a crime has occurred the question then becomes: How do we address the crime in a “just” manner? Restorative justice offers an alternative framework for addressing crime.
Historically, America’s criminal justice system has followed a retributive and utilitarian model that sanctions criminal behavior through penal measures. The restorative justice approach is distinguishable since it draws upon principles of community building, reconciliation, healing, and peacemaking. Restorative justice seeks to address the question of how to “make things right” by identifying the harm suffered by the victim, holding the offender accountable for this harm, and restoring interpersonal relationships within the community. It offers all stakeholders (victim, offender, families, and members of the community) an opportunity to repair the harm suffered as a result of the criminal offense and create a social contract to build a harmonious community.

The Characteristics of the Restorative Justice Model

The principles of restorative justice differ from the punitive nature of the United States criminal justice system. Traditionally, the key participants in a criminal matter are the judge, jury, plaintiff, and defendant. The plaintiff is the State; hence crime is characterized as a threat to public safety and disruption to social order. During the court proceedings, the goal of the State is to establish the elements of the crime, such as: the act, intent, and result. The defendant then presents defenses against the crime. The role of the jury is to determine if the elements of the crime are established to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Throughout this process, the victim plays a limited role and the voice of the community is not present. In most cases, the offender is encouraged to remain silent and avoid making admissions or giving an apology.

Restorative justice takes a different approach by focusing on making the victim, offender, and community whole again. Restorative justice draws upon the traditional notions of community building and peacemaking. These foundational tenets can be found in the practices of indigenous cultures across the world. This includes the sub-Saharan African ideology of Ubuntu that recognizes a person is a person through others; thus crime is a threat to the well-being of the entire community.1 Also, Native American faith traditions of “living in balance with self, community, and the creator” are incorporated into restorative justice practices.2 By drawing upon these cultural and faith traditions, restorative justice provides an opportunity for the victim to describe the harm suffered, the offender to take responsibility for the harm, and the community to offer support during this process.

In the restorative justice model, the focus moves beyond retribution to reconciliation. Restorative justice is a victim-centered approach; therefore crime is identified as harm to the victim and the community. Restorative justice offers an opportunity for the victim to find healing and answer questions that are often left unanswered, such as: Why did the offender commit the crime? How can the offender be held accountable to make things right? How can the victim and community overcome the fear of re-victimization? Through this line of questioning, the victim is given a chance to share his or her story of the harm suffered as a result of the crime and its impact. This storytelling can empower the victim and begin the healing process.

While participating in the restorative justice process, the offender will gain a deeper
understanding of the gravity of the offense. Throughout the process, the offender is held
accountable to both the victim and the community. The offender can discover ways to earn redemption and create a path of re-entry into the community. For example, this
can be accomplished by offering an apology, performing community service, and/or
providing restitution. The community also plays an integral role by supporting the
personal development of the offenders and aiding the offenders in the process of
understanding their obligations. Community members can offer referrals to social services and resources; hence drawing the offender into the social fabric of the community and reducing the likelihood of recidivism.

Benefits of Restorative Justice

Restorative justice offers benefits that may not be derived through the traditional criminal
justice system, such as healing for all participants and collective accountability. The
greatest benefit is the ability to create a sense of community since “awareness of connections is the foundation of authentic community.”3 A local restorative justice agency, Restorative Justice Community Action, Inc. (RJCA),4 has aided offenders/referred participants and community members in addressing crime in a
restorative way. The mission of RJCA is to improve community livability through
restorative justice practices. RJCA’s 2002-2005 data highlights include:5

•18,881 offenders participated in a community conference.
•86% of offenders successfully completed their restorative justice plan.
•75% of offenders did not re-offend within three years of committing an offense.
•96% of participating community members and offenders were satisfied.

Overall, the RJCA’s accomplishments illustrate that restorative justice can provide an
opportunity for mending the harm to relationships in the context of community
building. Each stakeholder is actively involved in restoring peace and obtaining justice.

Examples of Restorative Justice Models

The restorative justice model has been used in various ways to restore communities, build
relationships, and prevent future crime. As an advocate for restorative justice, I have
participated and served in a variety of capacities in various restorative justice models.
Through the following experiences, I have witnessed the benefits of addressing issues in a more holistic and restorative manner:

Create National Unity. I recently served as a volunteer for the Diaspora Project of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia (TRC).6 The restorative justice model
correlates with the principles of transitional justice for many nations as they seek to
transform their turbulent past into a peaceful future. I witnessed firsthand the power of the TRC in aiding citizens as they reconcile, forgive, and speak the truth.7 Through the
sharing of these personal accounts, nations, like Liberia, South Africa, and Sierra Leone, have learned from the past and united to repair the harm suffered.

Honor Cultural Heritage. I participated in a Hmong Community Peacekeeping Circle.
This circle incorporated Hmong cultural traditions when responding to crime through
the integration of the wisdom of Hmong elders into the legal process. The involvement of the elders provides a link to the Hmong cultural heritage for future generations.

Remedy Conflict in Schools. While studying in Greenwich, England, I trained grade school students in relational perspectives of conflict management and stimulated their leadership development. I prepared students to play an active role as stakeholders in resolving conflicts in the school.

Promote Community Policing.As a community advocate, I have researched models of
community policing that use a holistic, integrated approach to policing. In a growing
number of municipalities, restorative justice has also become an integral part of police officer training. The City of Woodbury is one such example in which officers work alongside community members to create safe communities and prevent crime. Through this collaboration, relations between community and police have improved, communities have become unified, and mutual respect has been established.

Conclusion

In Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, King suggest that we cannot be
satisfied “until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” The underlying goal of restorative justice is realizing justice for all stakeholders.
Restorative justice offers an opportunity for the victim, offender, and community to work
together collaboratively to address criminal behavior and create durable solutions. The
ultimate goal is to restore the sense of community that is diminished by crime and
violence. My hope is that the dreams of both Dr. King and Dr. Zehr will be reached as we
explore ways in which restorative justice can be used to restore and transform our communities.

Notes
1 Department of Welfare, Private Bag X901, Republic South Africa, 1997, http:www.welfare.gov.za/
Documents/1997/wp.htm (last visited June 19, 2008).
2 See http://www.acfnewsource.org/religion/circle_sentencing.html.
3 Kay Pranis, Restoring Community: The Process of Circle Sentencing (1996), presented at “Justice
Without Violence: Views from Peacemaking and Restorative Justice” (June 6, 1997).
4 Restorative Justice Community Action Incorporated, http://www.rjca-inc.org/.
5 Downtown Journal, Restorative Justice, Restoring Communities, http://www.downtownjournal.com/index.php?action=searchArchive&archivePage=100&dateFrom=&date
To=&fromArchives=fromArchives&numResults=10&order=date&page=65&publication=downtown&searchPubs=downtown&searchString=southwest&story=10754.
6 The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia, https://www.trcofliberia.org/.
7 Id.

Artika Tyner is a Clinical Law Fellow in the Community Justice Project at the
University of Saint Thomas School of Law Interprofessional Center. Ms. Tyner teaches and supervises CJP students as they prepare to become agents of social change. CJP students use an integrated problem solving approach to restore and build communities. She can be reached at artyner@stthomas.edu or (651) 962-4960.

Media experiences link to Circle Process

Book Draft Excerpt – On the Road Together: Safe Teen Driving Circles will be published by Living Justice Press, anticipated release, late 2009.

Using Circles with young people appeals to the generations comfort with media.  The cross over stems from the youths relationship to media.  I myself, can barely remember life before the internet and cell phones.  My daughter played educational computer games at age 5.  Clay Shirkytells the story of a 4 year old looking behind tv.  Daughter and Dad were watching a children’s show together.  When Dad asked what she was looking for, her reply was “the mouse”.  Illustrating the point that a screen without a mouse isn’t normal.  Shirky explains that when television was the only media the public’s only option was consumption.  Now the public has a choice and can add producing & sharingas media activities.  Think of young people today creating Myspace and Facebook pages.  Detailing websites with personal tastes of music, friends, photos.  The public sharing of ideas and blogs.  Young people are being raised on the ability to produce and share.  Yet in other segments of our lives the ability to produce and share has decreased.  Family life is busier, schedules are more hectic.  School remains a lecture format for students.  David Sousa, in How the Brain Learns states “Lecture continues to be the most prevalent teaching method in secondary and higher education, despite evidence that it produces the lowest degree of retention for most learners.”  He provides a diagram that lists ‘Practice by Doing’ at 75% retention and ‘Teach Others/Immediate Us of Learning’ having a 90% retention rate.  I believe this is why my college students, who experience each class in Circle, report so positively.

So maybe the best ‘talking piece’ to use is a computer mouse.  concludeExplain to young people, it’s like the Internet where we can create and share immediately in Circle.  At the same time, we learn from each other as we practice our speaking and listening skills in Circle.  Many of my college students have mentioned that they became better listeners as a result of being in my Intro class.  The 16 weekly Circles had an impact of students 20-25.  What a great age group to teach how to listen!

Let’s do more Circles in schools and community with our young people.  Let’s harness the skills to produce and share with technology, and transfer those to interpersonal relationship skills.  We owe it to the future.

-Kris

Celebrating a Year with the River Falls Chamber

SCVRJP was founded in 2001.  In January of 2008 SCVRJP was award the 2007 River Falls Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year Award. 

chamweb4

In the photo from left to right, Bill Rasmussen, me, Alison Page & John O’Boyle.  Bill & Alison are still on the board.

It’s been on of my favorite accomplishments.  For one, I didn’t really set out to achieve it.  I did suggest the Chamber have a non-profit of the year category.  Which they started this year.  Every visit to the web page, and every Chamber newsletter lists the award winners.  Award winner, photos are still on the Chamber website

The other reason I apprecite this award is that Chamber members themselves vote for the winner.  It was fun to get emails or in passing conversation, “hey I voted for you”.  Others said they noticed SCVRJP was a finalist.  It got our organization circulated in the Chamber network.  As a nonprofit – its imperitive to be connected to the community.  Afterall, it is who and why we do our work, for our community.

Point A

January  2001

Founded

Point B

January  2008

Small Business of the Year

What did it take to get from Point A to Point B?

 

·   1,008 Board Meetings

·   The hiring of 4 staff

·   Grants from $1,000 to $145,000

·   Partnerships with other organizations

·   Recruiting new board members

·   Providing quality services

·   Fiscal Management

·   Strategic Planning

 

Connecting to another – pracitioner skills – tip of the week

Today

Search  
if we are not able to connect with other

One of the features of wordpress blog sites, is the ability to see what entered as a ‘search’.  What you see above is the search entered today, that led a blog reader here.

I have no way of knowing who this was, or how to follow up.  But I am writing a post so the next time someone searches and finds this blog, you’ll have an answer.  It’s also practitioner skills to know how to connect to another person.

I REALLY try to be a good communicator.  I have to, my personality is bold and I’m an extrovert.  I need to say a great number of words to feel like someone is ‘hearing’ me.  Besides, a few brave people told me how I wasn’t communicating well.  I’ve been working on my communication skills.  Just so know you. I try very hard to communicate effectively.  When you ‘try’ to do something it’s in your head.  You see it more often.

This happened a few years ago, but I will never forget it.  A former board member was reviewing a document for SCVRJP.  I had used the word interconnectedness.  He laughed at it and said “what the heck is that?”.  I was stumped in trying to explain it.  (Right there was a lesson I learned from).  I was also speechless to someone who wouldn’t really understand the concept.  It reminds me of a man in a training who challenged my Mother Theresa quote . . .”we have forgotten that we belong to each other“.  He did NOT want to belong to the unruly students in his school!  It’s like trying to explain Greek (in Greek) to a non-Greek speaker!

All right back on track.  Here is what I have found in working with connecting to another person. 

1.) Easy in Circle – you slow down, you listen.  People often feel a deep bond/connection and are able to open up.  If you are looking for connection find or develop a Circle for yourself.

2.) One-One– this requires an internal shift in myself.  As I listen, I play this mental tape (you know mental tapes, those things you let run in the background while you do something else).  Maybe it’s more of a mental 8 -track, 4 different options, with a few songs on each.  The mental tape/8-track goes like this (while I am listening)

 “You are human, just like me.  Your feelings are feelings, just like me.  You are having an experience in this moment, just like me. “

Now that I’m writing this, I see I am risking sounding very odd.  It’s also not just my mental state.  It’s physically, with my body is a listening place.  One time this meant swallowing my gum, to be fully physcially present.  It’s emotionally with empathy.  It’s spiritual in energy.  These things help me connect to another.  Be it a person, I am working to set aside judgements for the crime committed.  Or even for board members, that have me questioning if they understand RJ.

If you are feeling like you can’t connect from your own end.  Give that thought the boot.  Giving something the boot – is farmgirl speak for “Kick it away”.  Another post on that later!

Have a very connected day!  Experiment, and give the clerk eye to eye contact, say thank you in a connected way.  Talk to a family member with the “connection/intention”, see what happens!

-Kris

 

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Marley & Me, bring the tissues!

I LOVED this movie!

I knew I was going to the movies on Christmas Day.  My daughter is with her Dad, and it’s a little tradition when I spend time alone.  So many movies looked good, 7 pounds with Will Smith, and Brad Pitt in Benjamin Button.

But I saw Jennifer Aniston on Oprah, and she didn’t get sour about her and Brad Pitt having a movie released on the same day.  She didn’t lie either, she just acknowledged it.  I’ve used a thought again and again, to help me.  I rationalize my love life sometimes, with “even Jennifer Aniston can get left” so even if I was hotter, thinner, prettier . . . I still might be alone.

So . . . in the back of my feminist mind I decided I would go see Marley & Me before Benjamin Button.  I actually wanted to go to two movies today.  I know it’s wierd, but I’m alone, so I can.  I wanted to have the least amount of time between the two shows.  I looked at two different places to go.  What was making sense was to go to Brad’s movie earlier.  But I had decided to spend my money first on Jennifer.  As if it really makes a big personal impact to EITHER one.  I couldn’t leave the feminist value behind!  I couldn’t go to Will Smith first either.

So off to Marley & Me.  I was late and I entered the packed, dark  theatre during previews.  I had to grab a seat in row 2.  The movie was larger than life in row two.dd-marley25_ph_0499578038_part1 

Oh did it get my heart!  I LOVED IT.  In one scene Owen Wilson’s character John Grogan is defending his marriage troubles and says “Mend it.  Don’t end it.”  What great advice for a marriage.  I say that is a little RJ in action!

Valuing a relationship to your own learning.

Restorative Justice is an evolving field.  I believe that we as practitioners/advocates, scholars have a responsibility to the field.  This responsibility takes many forms.  Here’s my list.

1.) To ourselves, to use the principles in both personal and professional.  Walk the Talk.  Living congruently.  Know yourself, and what better way that with addressing your own harms & needs or focusing on peace & belonging.

2.) To core philosophies. The key principles of RJ are consistent – harms, needs, obligations, engagement.  Inclusive process focusing on making things right.

3.) To others. When we see that our practice is rewarding and helpful, it’s important to circulate what works.  A social responsibility to advance the field and contribute good.

4.) To the greater good. I believe the institutions of schools & criminal courtrooms, need to change.  As a society and system, we need to figure this out.  I want to help and will contribute.

So holding these responsibilities – means holding a relationship to your own learning.  You learn how to care and grow yourself.  You learn more about restorative justice, you speak and carry yourself in a manner that others find you credible.  They want to know your story.  You learn how to create and influence social change.  Here’s a few examples of what I’ve been doing.

“Restorative Justice, an old concept, new again”  Ted Wachtel, IIRP.  I am ready to start reading Return to the Teachings by Ruppert Ross.  An RJ classic and must read for practitioners, so I’ve heard, I’ll keep you updated.

My learning about myself and relationships, I dug around the Internet and found this gem:  Psychology Today Article.  I printed it off and plan to do some journal writing and reflection on several of the points.

In promoting and advocating for bigger system change, the relationship to our learning is this.  What Works?  In a former work enviornment, I pushed and advocated for a less punitive, less formal style of child protection work.  It caused some huge disruptions & ripples.

I’ve learned, that taking an approach that is inclusive and relationship based works much better.

So the title of the post – a relationship to your own learning.  I encourage teachers to teach young people to develop this.  It creates lifelong learner, and it shifts responsibility from the teacher to the students.  The book Compassionate Classroom explains this.

So how is your relationship to your own learning.  How do you learn.  Are you a thinker, while you do physical work?  Are you a reader who needs articles & stories?  Do you need metaphors to understand and learn?  Conversation with someone else, is talking your best learning mechanism?

That’s the great thing about relationships, they are fluid, and change over time.

All the best in your learning!

-Kris

100th post – a story about cactus & community

THANK YOU!!!!  Yes the readers here are a major contribution to me continuing to blog.  Please leave a comment and let me know what you like reading about.

Side story – over the summer we updated my daughters room.  We were shopping for a little accent and decided to get several small cactus.0112997386503_150x150  We got a large flat bowl to put several of them together and create a little garden.  She picked a little fish bowl sign and added a small doll.

Six months pass and she is no longer interested in the “cactus garden”.  She brings it to me, I give her back the doll and decide to return the cactus to smaller individual containers.  The dirt and sand mix of the big bowl didn’t blend with the dirt of the mini containers.  I have a production out of changing the cactus around.  It’s  a topic for our family for almost two weeks.  Handling this cactus family, it’s kind of a joke and we are attached to these.  Plants are alive, so we respect them.

So now each cactus is in it’s own little mini container and placed in different spots around our home.  I even gave one away as a gift.

Then they start to die.  The first was a tall cactus and it just fell over, the stem had rotted.  Two weeks later, another one, brown and gone.   I say to my daughter . . . (this is the moral of the story)  “They didn’t start to die until I took them out of the community”.  She very firmly and quickly responds “MOM, you’ve got to BLOG about THAT!”.  I had a good laugh for a few reasons.

First it was how alive and well my blog is in our family.  My kid doesn’t even read it, I just tell her about it.  Secondly, wow did it ever show that my daughter ‘gets it’.  She understands restorative justice and the importance of community.  I was really amazed.  She is quite the kid.

I was sharing with her, the strong and powerful reactions from my college students.  Many of the final papers (a class reflection) explain how impacted students were with the Circle process.  My daughter says “Mom, that’s weird, it’s a big deal for them, but for me, it’s the way it’s always been”. 

I know the work of Restorative Justice and Circles changes lives.  Never forget the life you change maybe the people closest to you.

100 posts . . . I’m all the better for it, I hope you are.

-Kris

The power of keywords, internet searches and working alone.

When I started at SCVRJP in 2005, as an employee (technically before that I was a board member) one of my first major accomplishments was to get us a webpage.  I used a do it yourself site, and taught myself how to load documents and update pages.  Well fast forward from 2005 to 2008 and SCVRJP is working on a Marketing Plan and new website.  This led me to looking at the current website, and provider to find any site numbers/traffic.  I learned that I had neglected to fill out a “keyword” section.  This meant our site did not have words that search engines could find, and provide the searcher our site.  I hope this makes sense, obviously my skills are not in computer lingo!

Anyway – I also found that I never provided the description paragraph that would be under our link, when search engines provided information to searchers.  These items definately would have increased our web prescence the last three years.  I know this by the following example. 

Number of visits to the SCVRJP website – in 3 years:  3,886.

Number of visits to the Circlespace blog – in 3 months:  2,306.

The program here at WORDPRESS is great!  I can’t explain or understand how exactly it works, but I know that my blog gets picked up in search engines.  I even get to see what people searched for that found me.  Someone put in “Kris Teen Court”  today.

I have a “moral of the story” a lesson life gave me about this.  I am a Farm Girl.  I do it myself.  I fix what’s broke, feed what’s hungry, clean up after myself and expect the same from you.  I have big dreams on small pieces of sky.  I keep expectations for myself and others at pole vault levels.  I carried my own suitcase to the car when I went to the hospital to have my kid.  Not even an asprin and I birthed that 9 pound baby girl in 3 1/2 hours.  I had a knee surgery and stayed by myself.  To take my pain medication, I slurped melted ice water out of a cooler, part of a contraption strapped to my knee to keep swelling down.  From that day on my best friends tells me and everyone else, in a dark alley, she wants me on her side.  Don’t I sound like something.?  But there’s more, I cried at Disneyland when we watched a skit of Lion King.  The National Anthem can move me to tears.  Sappy commercials can tug at my heartstings and mist the eyes.

What I’m learning, as I grow older (hopefully wiser) is that doing it alone or doing it yourself isn’t always best.  A recent quote . . .

If you want to go faster, go alone.  If you want to go further, go together.

What we can do collectively vs individually is belonging.  Belonging for ourselves and others.   My I can do it myself attitude, isn’t working in my personal relationship.  Now I missed three years of promoting RJ on the internet, by doing that website all alone.  It’s not always just about reaching the goal for the sake of the goal.  It should be doing it collectively, not just on my own.  I’m forced to develop these skills the last few years.  Working as an Executive Director I have to be in tandum with a board of directors.  Trying to have a long term committed boyfriend, well that’s playing on a team as well.  Not to mention our office staff tripled (adding a bookkeeper/volunteer coordinater/office associate).

In the Spirit of Belonging and Togetherness!

Kris

Knowing our own skills and boundaries

A fellow Restorative Justice practitioner emailed today.  She had recieved a referral dealing with a loss of life.  She was looking for some help, support and guidance.  I coached her to the best of my skill and ability.

The referral was well intented, but did not seem to generate from the victims, and that is always of primary interest.  So that was my first piece of advisement.

She was complimented that the case was referred to her, but she was wise enough to see it was out of her range of experience and training.  I really have to compliment her on seeing that.  I’ve experienced people taking cases just because they were referred. 

Considering your own training, bias, experiences is VERY important.  I completed the “advance” or severe crime and violence training offered by Dr. Mark Umbriet at the U of M.  It was two years later that I finally completed the MN Dept of Corrections procedures training.  I needed that two years to feel I was in a place of being able to facilitate loss of life cases.

I had a deep wound from leaving one job very quickly.  That needed to heal, I also needed to gather my sense of spirituality, after life and my own belief system about Restorative Justice.  During that time, I also helped our Victim Impact Panels Speakers, this meant supporting them in storytelling about having a loved on killed by drunk driving.  I helped offenders, vicitms, survivors and grew in my comfort over grief, loss and loss of life.  Once I completed the required DOC training, I was a community member in a VOCARE’ program.  The process uses Circles, and stories of those that lost loved ones, and those that took lives from drinking & driving decisions.  I then went on to co-facilitate a Vocare’ session.

The point I really want to make, it to please – don’t be afraid to say ‘NO’ to taking a case.  Especially around severe crime and violence.  Don’t be self centered about wanting to do such a case, that you miss where you might cause harm.  RJ is about REPAIRING Harm, not causing further harm.

Another thing I have seen and want to advise against – – PLEASE do not take loss of life cases on as an individual, you should always CO-facilitate.

We have an obligation to this field and those that seek our services.  There is a careful boundary to seek support, mentorship and deep evaluation before heading into severe crime and violence cases.  Always do your best!

-Kris