Why Restorative Justice helps us with ‘belonging’.

maslowMaslow’s Hierchy of needs, from changing minds.org.  There’s belonging right in the middle.  First we have the basic needs, food, shelter and clothing.  Then freedom from danger, and in the middle, BELONGING.

How many incidences of crime or harm do you think DON’T impact the bottom two,  safety and basic needs?  Sleep disturbance is a common impact of being victimized.  Or even being close to a situation.  A business in River Falls was held up at gunpoint, the store clerk was threatened and traumatized by the incident, obviously.  The store owner, not even present at the time, was unable to sleep until the perp was found.  (Print edition River Falls Journal Nov 12).

Consider the two needs above belonging, esteem and self-actualization.  Those are also impacted by crime and conflict.  So I find it an interesting, that the middle link between the upper and lower needs, belonging.

Mother Theresa quote . . .”we have forgotten that we belong to each other“.

Consider this, the restorative justice process follows Maslow’s Hierchy, we bring people together for interactions.  We pre-conference, or prepare those coming to the process.  I know I accomodate my meeting times around food, sleep needs, work schedules and those basic concerns for people.

We certainly focus on safety, preparing people to come and assuring that safety both physical and emotional is planned for, addressed and all preparations for a smooth process are in place.

When Restorative Justice is used as community building, vs addressing harm or conflict, the needs are still met by Restorative Justice.

I think belonging for everyone evolves when the individuals in Circle, travel from Point A to Point B.  Point A being when we are strangers in a sense and then Point B is when we have cleared the space between us.

We started a new Circle program called CSI-Circles.  Controlled Substance Intervention – responding to those who have gotten citations/tickets for marijuana possession or parapernalia charges.  We use Restorative Justice Circle process with booklets from the Change Company.  Our community members in the Circle include people in recovery, with significant life experiences impacted by addiction and previous drug use.  We focus on restorative values and the talking circle is the vehicle for impacting people.

The response by participants has really touched me.  One young person shared a traumatic story about an incident of threats and abuse by a parent.  We all silently absorbed that story, because it was Circle.  Later the “taking action” stage, was full of comments about what people would be taking from the Circle.  Hope, understanding, awareness, faith – things you would want young people who got caught with a pipe or pot to feel.  At least what I think is good to take away, I have thought long about what they were getting from courts before SCVRJP offered this session.

The final question round, is usually a reflection on the Circle itself, and I used that at the CSI.  That was really great feedback.  The attendees were really suprised by what they thought it was going to be and what it was.  Several comments on how effective it was, and how much more it should be applied.

I think all the positive-ness came from distributing the sense of belonging.  We gave it to each other, we reintegrated everyone back in the community.  The Circle safety created a candid space for everyone to talk about their crime, their lives and their future.  It was a real gift to have our CSI program be so well recieved.

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