Restorative Justice is victim centered, we all have obligations to support each other.

There are three responses to victimization.  Revenge, Retaliation and Restoration.

At first people think the first two are the same.  They are different, think of revenge going out and retaliation going in.

Revenge can turn some victims into a victimizer.  I’ve seen it happen on many occassions.  The person harmed is so angry they want to add as much restitution as possible.  The worth of a broken vase is very little to the offender.  To the victim the item had great sentimental value.  The loss of trust and security for the victim, cannot be put in dollars and sense.  The formal justice system can only deal with dollars and sense. 

Side story.  I really wanted to get a case to Restorative Justice.  A teen girl was home alone, invited three boys over.  When she and one boy were alone, the other two decided to start stealing.  When glass shattered the girl wondered what had happened, went to investigate and the boys all took off.  They had been drinking at the time.

The Dad gets a call, from his daughter “we’ve been robbed”.  They are worried for her, rush home.  His clothes were taken, even his house slippers.  One thing that was left outside smashed was heart wrenching.  When Dad was serving in Vietnam he and 5 buddies went on R & R.  They all signed a bottle.  Only two of the men are still alive.  He carried that bottle through life and had planned for it to go in his coffin.  Now it was gone. 

I saw this Dad as a great guy, he reminded me of my own Dad.  He got himself sober, about 30 years ago, started a sober Motorcycle club, and was a volunteer Emergency Medical staff.  He acknowledged being quite the badass in his day.  He gave back via volunteer service.  He acknowledged it was to payback for wrongs he had committed.  I am pretty sure he even spent some time in jail.

I never got to do Restorative Justice.  The Offenders were so pissed off.  They were pissed they were coping with felonies.  Pissed off that the restitution was so high.  Pissed off because they were drunk, and she let them in.  They really saw what had happened as minimilizing.

When I had met with the Dad, he made some comments.  He wanted to tell these boys he could have used a different system of justice.  He wasn’t meaning my little non-profit, talking piece kind of justice.  He knew his angry would have to be controlled.  He acknowledged this and we had a completely seperate meeting to address this.

The offenders never got to a point of accepting they caused harm.  One drifted in and out of jail, the other was so focused on how he had been wronged.  I was getting the urge to yell at him.  The ultimate hurdle is harm . . . RJ repairs harm not causes harm.  I use this as a measure and I couldn’t get a sense we would have physical safety during the conference.  I screened the case our of conferencing.

See Revenge is out – towards others.  And when a formal system seeks revenge it impacts people is away that they don’t take obligations for fear of more revenge.  (the point of the story above).

Retaliation goes in.  This is the victim that starts to blame themselves, or takes responsibility for the crime.  If only I had ______.  Then this would not have happened.  Retaliation can mean you get a alarm system or you no longer leave your car unlocked.  It can go outward, now you treat all people that look like your victimizer the same way.  I have a friend and she says she doesn’t have to like Indians because she experienced one threaten her with a broken bottle. 

I’m really simplifying the Revenge, Retaliation and Restoration.  I just want you to be aware of these three.  Just like the stages of grief people can revist these.  When you work with victims explore these concepts and ideas, see what the vicitm things and feels.  It was in talking this over with that Dad, I learned so much about him, and he knew what revenge he could have done.

We will also experience feels when we put restorative justice in motion.  Be aware of your own stuff.  Make sure you know what is going on inside of you – related to responding to the crime.  And I must note, again – Restorative Justice is NOT for everyone.  If you feel it is for you and you have been a victim of a crime – you have options.  Find a good program and explore those options.  You can speak to the offender directly in your case.  You can speak to others that had done a similiar crime, or are on a path to committ a similiar crime.  You can tell your story to help others. 

Restoration is not a one size here is the recipe to get there.  Restoration is as individual as each crime and each person.  Restoration does not always mean Restorative Justice, it is just one of the options.  I don’t know what else the formal system offers that supports this so I encourage crime victims to explore Restorative Justice.