I firmly believe in the RJ triad, of including victims, offenders and community members in the encounter process of facilitating Restorative Justice.
Community participants in Circle are crucial. I wouldn’t set up a process without them. Community participants provide this:
- reinforce the norms for behavior in a community.
- A neutral set of eyes on the incident, a perspective from a neutral point of view.
- Support for victims that they have an important perspective, that victims are crucial to repairing the harm.
- To offenders, they offer the support the change is possible.
- To the keeper, they support and role model the Circle process.
Ran across this interesting blog, and it offers that our brains are impacted by learning from mistakes. Exactly what we want in Restorative Justice. The “fixed” mindset and the “growth” mindset influence our ability to grow and change. I am thinking about how shame reinforces that fixed mindset. Volunteers in Circle, and other Circle members, when asked to tell about a time they learned something, or a time they had to repair harm, demonstrate their “growth” mindset and growth experiences.
I ask these types of questions in Circles, before addressing the harm. To pave a path to the truth around the incident, you need to build up trust. To get those that caused harm to really, understand making a change, you need to get to the heart and the brain.
The heart will let you know the impact, will unlock reasons you might have made that choice in the first place. The brain, will tell you you can make better choices in the future. Heart led work, produces heart work. Another example of the art and science of Restorative Justice, is setting up process that makes the most of all three in your process, the victim, the offender and the community participants!