As a Rotary Club, we say the pledge of allegiance. As we stated the end, “with liberty and justice for all” I thought about these words together, “liberty” and “justice”. I thought about if “for all”, really means, “for all”. You have to excuse my perspective, it’s a little biased towards restorative justice. Sometimes I see shortcomings in the criminal justice system and the focus on the offender. The innocent until proven guilty, functioning seems to leave out the voice of the victim and the community. I watched a lot of TV recently, the 9-11 memorial ceremony and the programs dedicated to people telling their stories. I thought of Restorative Justice throughout this. I saw the value of storytelling, I saw the power of the human spirit. I wonder if “liberty” and “justice” can ever be restored after such a tragic loss. When I am left with more questions, than answers, I get busy.
Locally, SCVRJP is working on volunteer structure and providing our community members with experiences that enhance and promote their personal growth. I focus on restorative outcomes for all three, victim, offender and community members. The outcomes are restored connections, increased empathy and improved self-worth. Our training structure has been defined in writing with this most recent Volunteer_Training_Structure.
Running a really Restorative Justice program can be a challenge. All non-profits face challenges and concerns. On any given day there can be financial concerns, marketing concerns, staff concerns, volunteer concerns, board concerns and service delivery concerns. What never concerns me, is the reward or impact for doing this work. To see tears streaming down the face of a young person, sooooooo remorseful and knowing the direct victim is with us, expereince this is a reward. To hear “I forgive you” and “you are welcome in my store” is a reward that really, good, decent people exist. By building up our volunteer skills and providing them with competencies and skills for doing better Restorative Justice, our entire community will benefit. By staying true to what is really restorative justice and teaching others to be solid in that philosophy, we can all benefit from the rewards available.