Living the R’s of Restorative Justice Respect, Relationship, Responsibility.

Recently presented at the Red Road Gathering in Vermillion South Dakota.  I did my first presentation using Prezi, you can view it here.

I highlighted the 3 R’s of Restorative Justice in the presentation.  Respect, Responsibility and Relationship.  Like anything when you prepare to teach it, you understand the material differently.  Additionally when you speak at Red Road, you are speaking to people’s hearts.  It is a different type of presentation.  Usually I am speaking to teach Restorative Justice itself or offering education on how to do RJ.  The Red Road Gathering is deeper than that.  You consider your audience in every presentation.  For the Red Road Gathering I considered people attend for the theme, the meaning and to learn more about the human experience of living on the Red Road (Native American Spiritual path of living in connection, sobriety, harmony, well-being).

Respect, Relationship, Responsibility.

Respect is deeper than just not rolling your eyes, or reacting negatively to someone else.  It is holding, really holding that honor and recognition of equal dignity and worth in another human being.  In Restorative Justice we ask people to hold that deep respect, even for those that have caused us pain and harm.  I try to check myself in these concepts.  “Be the message” and “live the prayer”.  Holding respect that means “honoring the dignity and worth” of each and every person (click to tweet). In my presentation I shared we all have the capacity.  I shared stories of teachers, those teachers to me have been the people who have utilized Restorative Justice to repair harm.  This presentation focused on severe crime and violence, so the experience of meeting someone who murdered your loved one, or drove the car that caused the crash that they died in.  I put out the call to honor others even if they have caused that kind of harm in your pathway.  Honor others even if they caused a lesser harm.

Relationship.  This is recognizing the inter-relatedness, the interconnectedness of each and every person.  It is also deeper and more than that.  Relationships mean doing something for others.  Something for someone else.  Doing for someone who in turn it becomes reciprocal, bilateral.  Some relationships are involuntary, often the case with crime.  Maybe the relationship is by choice, however, having violence or harm in the relationship is not.  In Restorative Justice, we ask for people to try to understand each others relationship to the incident.  To explore their own relationship to it.  We ask “how were you impacted”, “what were you thinking”.  This relationship to the incident can and does change over time.  That is growth and healing, when it doesn’t change people are often stuck, bitter, resentful.

When practicing Restorative Justice, you start people on the journey to a different relationship to the harm.  The Victim-Offender Dialogue is not the end point, but a place along the path.  Severe crime is a life-long journey of living with the incident.  When we do less harmful events, we intend for Restorative Justice to change the person for the better.  Deeper connections and relationships to values to promote safer living for self and others.

Responsibility.  This is the commitment to these relationships.  When victims show ‘restorative grace’, by forgiving, honoring, repairing harm, an obligation emerges in the one that caused the harm (click to tweet).  When you get to this point, Restorative Justice faces the challenge of victims not always wanting to engage in the process.  Responsibility means living your life connected to the voice inside of you that does not use words.  Living from a Center that knows right from wrong, kindness from harm, and can overcome any pain or challenge.  If you live from the wounds and jagged edges of your life, you are not honoring your responsibilities.  Even around others who are living from the jagged edges, your job is to be the example, live in a kind way, knowing no act of kindness is ever wasted.

At the same time, I am thinking long about someone I am working with.  I view things differently than this person.  I want to move them along to a place of deeper accountability and responsibility for causing harm.  The very first step in Restorative Justice accountability.  How do I use Respect, Responsibility, Relationship?  I put a little statement on Facebook, I was wondering if I could harm the other person and create “over-accountability”.  Not sure what that means, I made it up.  I drew some wisdom from someone with lived experience.  Sometimes, the system takes away the responsibility for accountability because the system punishes in a way the person being punished doesn’t feel is just or fair.  I know perceived injustice will create a reaction.  I will be revisiting respect, and really try to understand the other person’s perpective and the benefits of that attitude, and then hopefully we can explore and discover how those beliefs impact the relationship to the offense.  Then perhaps we can move to a place of taking more responsibility for the harm, and isn’t that accountability?


Restorative Justice presentation as part of Red Road, Vermillion South Dakota September 19, 2013

I’m preparing early for a presentation in South Dakota.  The Red Road Gathering is in year 24 and I am honored to be featured on the agenda.  I first attended Red Road in 1996, I lived in Vermillion for just 9 months.  I worked at the Student Counseling Center, and we sponsored a breakfast, and we were present to provide any 1:1 support if needed.  I found the presentations to be really powerful.  I was honored to get to hear teachings on the Inipi, or sweatlodge.  This was my first opportunity to participate in Ceremony.  I found it to be incredibly moving and healing.

The experience of Red Road, influenced the development of SCVRJP.  Our logo features the colors of the Lakota Medicine Wheel.  My understanding of the power of Circle process has greatly been influenced by experiences in Native Ceremony.  My world-view, understanding of values, relationships and community began to expand and grow after my first participation at Red Road.

If you have the opportunity to attend, I recommend it.  The website, features resources for hotels, and there is no registration cost.  Simply sign up on the website.

Check out this National Association – NACRJ

The National Association of Community and Restorative Justice is offering a membership special, details from a recent email from the Executive Director Michael J. Gilbert, Ph. D.:

The Board of Directors has approved a two month membership drive with reduced rates from Sept. 1, 2013 through the end of October 2013.  The membership rates for all categories are reduced by 50%.  This will help us build the membership and provide the resources we need to serve the membership and help us realize our motto “Shaping Justice for the 21st Century”.

The flyer: NACRJ – Flyer Membership Discount – FALL 2013, contains membership rate information for this time limited opportunity.  I want to encourage you to consider joining.  Supporting agencies, especially on the National level helps leverage connections and advance the movement of Restorative Justice and Restorative Practices.

There are many ways to get involved from donating time to a local agency to helping State or National organizations, such as NACRJ.  Your involvement plants seeds for the future.  Participate by joining!