Daily Archives: May 17, 2009

Restorative Justice practice is like working a finger trap.

If you’ve never played with one of these “finger traps” they can be fun.  I always have to tug a bit and watch the pieces work together.

I think doing Restorative Justice is a bit like working with one these.fringer_trap1

Not every time, but often, when crime/conflict happens, an involuntary relationship is created between victim and offender.  The offender usually has no idea (or put no thought) into the impact on others.  So imagine the crime is a bit like getting into the trap.

I was sitting with a group of wise women.  I don’t recall exactly what we were speaking about, something related to being a victim.  Someone in our group spoke up and said, “some might choose to let it consume”.  So basically this person was saying that a victim has a choice on handling trauma after crime.  Before you judge this, know the woman that spoke it.  Her daughter was murdered, and she met with one of the killers.

Restorative Justice is victim centered, and think about if just one side on the finger trap, gently moves towards the Center and carefully disengages.  One side is free.  If both sides gently and carefully move to the center, both are freed.

I want to highlight the gently and carefully part.  Once again I had the honor of hearing Mark Umbriet speak.  Again, he said “preparation, preparation, preparation”.  The basic Restorative Justice process, is a victim-offender conference.  Bringing those directly involved together, to promote accountability and healing.  This is not done or facilitated by the faint of heart.

Bringing people together in a good way, requires a great deal of the facilitator.  Exploring the wants, needs, intentions and each party is crucial to the process being a transformative experience.

Restorative Justice is like a finger trap – - it’s not for everyone.  Some people are all for picking up and playing with toy.  Restorative Justice is meaningful for the people that select the process.

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Filed under Conferencing, offenders, Practitioner Skills, Restorative Justice, Victims