Keeping Restorative Justice, R-E-S-T-O-R-A-T-I-V-E Justice.

In the recent issue of WisKids Journal published by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families (WCCF)an article was titled:  Restorative Justice Light –  Something to Think About for RJ Programs (link to article).

One of the WCCF projects is Justice for WI Youth, the project staff person is Jim Moeser, and he authored the article.

I would recommend that you read it.  After I read it, I emailed Jim, thanking him for his perspective and input.  I try to stay away from frustrating things in my life.  I get frustrated when the label “restorative justice” is placed on any package that is an alternative to the formal system.  I believe we need to advocate for what it is we do.

R-respect, the basis for all RJ work.  You have to know who Howard Zehr is, and he provided great illustrations in the Little Book of Restorative Justice, a must read for all professionals in the field or those utilizing restorative services.

E-empathy.  It extends to victims, offenders AND community members.  It is a value you role model, teach, encourage and use to guide transformation.

S-solutions.  RJ addresses the social and emotional aspects of crime, it gives people a place to identify what is needed to make things right.

T-trust.  RJ is not an easy process.  You should never stop trying to learn this art & science and trust the framework provided.  Trust people to find their own healing and respect their journey.

O-optimistic.  When I first hear about people and values, it keeps my optimistic.  Keeping a view that people are good and that systems can change is important to stay on track as a restorative practitioner.

R-research.  We owe it to the movement and to ourselves to utilize the results of research.  A recent example: http://concord.patch.com/articles/restorative-justice-circle-gets-nod-from-cops.  I plan to send the article and a reminder that SCVRJP will take referrals from law enforcement. 

A-accountability.  This morning it just flew out of my mouth “you have to do accountability with a soft hand”.  I was talking about facilitating a Circle.  Holding people’s hearts and humanity about what they did, takes a special skill set.  A closed heart, like a closed parachute does no good.  Opening up your heart and realizing what you have done, and then being accountable, by DOING something to repair the harm, makes a difference.  I love accountable victims, the ones that seek and participate in Restorative Justice, helping the community by preventing further re-offending.

T-time.  RJ is not a quick fix.  It takes time to heal.

I-intuitive.  Restorative Justice work, goes by the gut.  I can’t completely explain how to monitor emotional climate in circles, I just ‘know’ the work requires you to listen to yourself.

V-victim initiated.  Those two words are simple, yet can be tricky.  A victim was asking for RJ to lift a no-contact order.  RJ is not to be done to assist offenders, we delicately worked around this one.  Victims NEED and MUST be at the heart of all restorative justice work.

E-everyone.  Inclusive process is key.  Engage the people impacted by the conflict or crime you are addressing, restorative-ly.  As Jim indicated in his article, considering the Victim, Community AND Offender is RJ.