Restorative Justice, criminology of self or other, a lesson from the process.

To encourage understanding of our work, and to do what I teach, SCVRJP staff meetings include a reading, a reflection and a check-in.

I teach, that agencies or schools that use Circles or Restorative Justice, should parellel the process within the agency.  That would mean using the restorative concepts as part of agency functioning, elements or, or actual Circles as part of meetings.

At a recent staff meeting, a co-workers shared from a book in the SCVRJP library.  I found it interesting, and appreciated the knowledge and concepts.  It made me appreciate that our agency brings these elements to staff meetings.  You never know when you might just get a new way to consider or understand Restorative Justice.

Book: Restorative justice, self-interest and responsible citizenship. Lode Walgrave

Pages: 192-193

Another spin-off of restorative justice for criminology is that the conceptions of crime, criminals and crime-fighting are stripped of their exceptional character. Mainstream criminology is predominantly what Garland (2001) calls a ‘criminology of the other’. Such criminology considers those who commit offenses as another kind of human, intrinsically different from law-abiding citizens; it focuses on particular risk groups, such as immigrants, drug users or youths in deprived neighborhoods, which it presents as threats to the existing social order. The criminology of the other aims to produce theoretical, empirical and practical knowledge that will allow better control of risk groups or render them less harmful for the average citizen. In doing so, this criminology delivers expertise that further excludes and controls the poor and marginalized; it becomes a technology of social exclusion and thus significantly advances dualisation in society.

‘Criminology of the self’ (Garland 2001), on the contrary, considers those who commit crime as normal people. The person who offends is one of us, someone who, because of circumstances, has ended up in a position that caused him to act illegally and to harm others. It could have happened to any citizen. But criminology of the self can ‘normalise’ the criminal in two different ways. It can bring the level down, by regarding all humans as potential criminals. The consequence of such approach is that we all live in mutual distrust to protect ourselves against one another through, for example, situational prevention strategies based on rational choice theories (Felson 1994). In Putnam’s terms, social capital is then drastically degraded, which, as I have described briefly, is disastrous for the quality of social life and for democracy.

A restorative process offering the offender the opportunity to make up the harm caused may be a major help in the offender’s quest for rehabilitation. Basically restorative justice has this normalising approach to all those involved in the aftermath of crime and looks at both the victim and offender as normal, reasonably responsible persons. It presupposes that, in the right conditions, both victim and offender will be prepared to try and find a solution that is acceptable to all parties, including the interests of the larger community and public safety. As seen in previous chapters, this trust is not naïve, but is sufficiently supported by experience and empirical data to justify it as the starting point in considering what should and can be done once an offense occurs.

Felson, M. (1994) Crime and Everyday Life. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.

Garland, D. (2001) The Culture of Control. Crime and Social Order in Contemporary Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press



Training school staff, the importance of relationships!

I have a great relationship with a district across the state.  Today I travel to be ready for training the next 2 days.  As a student, practitioner or teacher of Restorative Justice, my materials might help you expand or deeper your work.  My brief agenda for the two-days.  I train using a range of resources and recommendations – from Colorado, you can get an e-book from Teaching Peace, that really spells out Restorative Justice and provides great examples.  I always bring the Little Book series to trainings.  Great discounts on bulk orders from the publisher.  I travel stocked with my IIRP – Restorative Question Cards, available from their bookstore, where you can find many other excellent books.  I’ve got my brochure about RJ and bully behavior.

Most importantly I am armed with enthusiasm, this will be the 3rd, maybe 4th trip to this district.  My daughter even recorded a video greeting!  She traveled with me, and was never afraid to offer her perspective or participate in Circle.  I’m excited because I know I have grown and developed as a practitioner and trainer.  I really like this aspect of expressing and using my passion for Restorative Justice and School-based Restorative Justice.  If you are looking for a speaker, trainer or conference presenter, please contact the Restorative Jusitce Center in River Falls!  You can email me directly at or call 715-425-1100.

To highlight the great work with students, and the feedback about using Circles, here is a link to a post written in 2008.  When students were asked what makes their school special, they replied “Circles”!

Students Say Circles are Important!

Restorative Justice Stakeholder Meeting – Valentine’s Day!

Using the day of hearts and love . . .  Restorative Justice Stakeholder Meeting


Restorative Justice

Stakeholder Meeting

Tuesday – February 14, 2012

8-10 am

St. Croix County Government Center

Lower Level Community Room

Sponsored by:  St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program


Please join us to discuss the work and future of Restorative Justice.


If you work in public safety, with offenders, victims or community programs we would like to hear from you.  We are inviting all parties involved in the adult & juvenile justice and community health initiatives to this meeting.


  • Provide input regarding your agency/program needs
  • Receive up to date information on existing programs
  • Contribute ideas for improving Restorative Justice offerings
  • Meet and network with other justice professionals
  • Refreshments 8am – Panel presentation 8:30, Discussion 9:00 Resource Sharing 9:30


Inviting: circuit & municipal court staff, law enforcement, social workers, probation, parole, human services, mental health, faith-based, victim assistance, school, public health, recovery community members and professionals.


For more information:

SCVRJP (715)-425-1100


Doing justice for Restorative Justice is not what to think, but how.

This article in Harvard Business Review, the author shares some success in sharing HOW to think, not WHAT to think.  Boom, in my brain, that is why I blog, to help people with Restorative Justice and Circles, and to provide insight in how we might advance ourselves, our services and our collective passion about Restorative Justice and Circles.  How to think about it,  here is an example:

The hot new social media trend is pinterest.  Pinterest is an online pinboard.   Whoever heard of that?  Basically, a pinboard is a place to post pictures that are links to sites, and you can look at what has been pinned, someone elses board of pinned items.  Make sure you have time when you go there, it is addicting.

My first visit to pinterest, I, of course, search the term Restorative Justice.  Results, about restorative yoga, restorative dentistry and lots of photos with comments on how the photo “doesn’t do it justice”.  After reading again and again, “doesn’t do it justice” or “does not do justice”, I put my meaning on the word justice, and began to think about criminal justice, restorative justice and why and how the word was being used in all these photo comments.

I came to this.  In the context of beauty, when a photo “does not do it justice”, it means something about it wasn’t captured, that in real life, there was something much more.  I think it has to do with capturing a spiritual essence, that a photo can not do and real life can.  I think, Restorative Jusitce brings different “justice”.  The kind of justice that includes a spiritual essence, that formal process can not do.  Recently hearing “there are as many definitions of justice as their are victims”.  I am in tune to the individuality of justice and the need to be individually aware of each persons experience and need for justice.

Crime is ugly, there is no way to say that it isn’t.  People are hurt, people are punished, resources and capacity are diminished in the presence of crime.  Humans are not acting on their own greater good when they commit crimes.  Generally here, it was a crime when Rosa Parks didn’t get out of her seat, but that’s another blog post.

Use of the phrase, “doesn’t do it justice” on pinterest, really had me thinking about harvesting the justice (beauty and spiritual essence) in Restorative Justice.  It was actually best said by a teen in Circle.  She looked at the speaker, who had shared the pain of surviving his daughters death, caused by an intoxicated driver, and she told him she was sorry for his loss.  She said it was terrible that it happened and she wished it hadn’t.  She said it was cool that he was telling the story like this.  I saw the expression on the storytellers face.  It appeared he was acknowledged and comforted.  I felt the beauty in that moment of connection between Circle members.  I saw an element of Restorative Justice, as the tragic and fatal car crash created a lesson and touched lives.  This storyteller was harvesting the justice (the beauty and spiritual essence) of what happened.  So much so, that a teen referred to as cool.  You do realize most teens don’t recognize people that are old enough to be their parents as cool?  And that word “cool”, in that moment, it really did do justice.


St Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program seeks board of director applicants!

Are you interested in promoting Restorative Justice for Pierce and St. Croix Counties in Western Wisconsin?

SCVRJP has board openings!  We are looking for skilled and passionate candidates to help lead SCVRJP.

Please consider completing a board application, deadline February 1, 2012.  Candidate application

SCVRJP is also hosting a Stakeholder Meeting on February 14, 2012.  Stakeholder meeting announcement