Restorative Justice is a philosophy, approach and even a life style of living in “right relationship“. I have written several blog posts about what is REAL restorative justice. (post on rj relationships)
What does a Restorative Justice professional look like then?
- Relationship focused. Connections you make and how you connect others is being a restorative justice professional.
A professional is a person who operates with clear standards and practices. Restorative Justice provides us clear values and processes. Being a professional also means keeping a committment to continued learning about your profession. That is why professional licenses require continuing educational credits. I recently saw this in action, and believe that Russ Kelly is a restorative justice professional.
I sent a copy of his book, From Scoundrel To Scholar… The Russ Kelly Story to a young man in prison. My prison pen pal credits a restorative justice circle to prompting his transformation of understanding the harm he caused his victims. This person is mentioned in the article I wrote for the American Humane Association article in Protecting Children.
My “pen pal” noticed that the book was self published and he wrote a letter to Russ Kelly, and Russ wrote back. I am hoping to get in contact with Russ myself! The Restorative Justice professional, sees each relationship as important. It is extending the common element and value of RJ, respect, to everyone. It is seeing in everyone the potential for a bilateral relationship, being open to how you can leave the interaction better as well as helping the other person be better.
Being a “RJ professional” means being mindful of the relationships that the incident of harm had to the people involved. In a case of perjury, I asked a judge from a different jurisdiction to be part of the Circle. As it happened the Judge never spoke much from the perspective of a judge, she spoke from the perspective of a community member getting to hear a father tell his daughter how much she was loved.
Being professional and mindful of relationships means really thinking about who was impacted. I’ve spoken to bus drivers when conflict happened on the bus. I’ve asked people retired from a profession to sit in when the profession was harmed by the incident we were dealing with. It’s engaging these “bystander” level victims and processing how they were impacted.
A restorative justice professional realizes that people have their own unique response to crime and that by understanding that person’s relationship to the harm you can help.
It is important to also understand other professionals and their role to crime and or misbehavior. A teachers view of discipline and misconduct is very relevant to teaching them about RJ. A police officer that has gotten cynical about people in general can be a tougher sell about RJ.
Being a Restorative Justice Professional means carrying yourself and your interactions on a level that is mindful of others. I wish I was always great with this, I have my moments of greatness and moments of weakness. It’s how you handle your weakest parts that makes you strong. A RJ professional will take actions to repair harm and carry forward without causing further harm.