Restorative Justice community members create consequential strangers!
I heard about his book, while listening to MN Public Radio, the story here. Reading the article prompted me to make my own 100 people list. (I was sure I already blogged on this but I can’t find. I’m tired of looking.)
What occured to me today after reading author Melinda Blau’s blog, was the power that Restorative Justice volunteers/community members bring to others. The volunteer community members come to RJ, sit in Circle with those court ordered to attend.
Really deep connections result. The power that happens is shared by everyone in the Circle. The authentic conversations, the self-awareness in a group setting really connects people.
A Step-Dad once told the Circle, he was going to take things away from the Circle, that would stay with him forever. My interpretation of what he was referring to was the non-judgement, the support, the compassion. Earlier in the Circle, his step-son mentioned learning more about his father figure in the two hours of Circle, than he ever knew before.
A few volunteers are retired, they bring a calm wisdom to Circles. They are loving, supportive spirits. I have seen their words bring tears to offenders. One young man was struggling with a divorce. His criminal behavior happened while he was intoxicated. He was embarressed, he opened up to the Circle. He was given advice, support and the community member made a comparison to her own son’s life. She spoke strongly of the role of being a parent, and supported the offender in being a good Dad, assured him the pain of divorce would eventually soften.
A month later I heard from the probation officer who originally referred this young person for “not getting it”, he was still working in the bar business. After the Restorative Justice session, a month later, it turns out he was phasing out of the bar business and taking up school . . . for criminal justice. I immediately contacted my volunteer and started choking up as I told her this. I was moved to tears by the demonstration that what we talked about in Circle might just have supported some change for someone.
I overheard a comparison, a time spent with RJ and formal methods of supervision. The Restorative Justice Circle process was compared to a lower level probation supervision model. The speaker explained having a person on supervision for a year and getting a brief phone call or visit as part of probation. OR having a person spend 120 minutes in Circle with people that care, and really getting something out of it.
I’ve just ordered the book from Amazon, I really think it will contribute to how our Circle interactions really make a difference. You can connect to a volunteer with restorative justice. The person may have told a deep story in Circle, or they may just have been a Circle member who helped create the container to repair harm. Whatever the context, you might see them again, and when you bump into them, your bond is there. That’s the relationship connect of Restorative Justice.