Restoratively engaging survivors, storytellers and community volunteers.

Restorative Justice operates by engagement of Victims-Offenders-Community.  The magic is in the mix of these stakeholders.  I believe the more congruent your program and work with these stakeholders is, the more you are modeling, teaching, coaching and living restoratively.  Using community volunteers beyond facilitators is very important.  The community voice is important to help both the victims and offenders feel supported and to increase their knowledge of how crime impacts the community.  Storytellers in Restorative Justice can be the survivor of crime, the support person of someone harmed, or someone directly impacted.  I have other posts on Restorative Justice Storytelling, here.  This blog post will provide some direct actions you can take to restoratively engage individuals in the work of Restorative Justice services and programs.

1. Live Circle Wisdom.  Value all your relationships, and maintain a place where you yourself are in a good way for your relationship with others.  This might mean self-care or spiritual practices that keep you centered to your best self.  As someone recently said to me, “walk the hot coals of our own lives”.  People decide if their relationship with you is ‘just’, they want to be treated fairly and with respect.  The standard is even higher for those in Restorative Justice, you want to show people how it works, by being that example.

2. Apply the approach constantly.  Utilize the power that Circles create, by applying the outcomes in this image, as the potential for each engagement with someone else.Restorative Justice Peacemaking Circles

 

I was provided some feedback that I didn’t necessarily want to hear, but I needed to hear it and I’m glad that I did.  I see it now, that I could have lived the bullet points in this image.  I try to be mindful of these and do them consistently.

I messed up at a community forum, small groups brainstormed ideas on work of SCVRJP.  One group had identified the importance of people knowing about “forgiveness”.  I reacted, I sighed, whispered to a neighbor, saying “that’s not what restorative justice is really about”.  It wasn’t that I was wrong, but what I did was not necessary, it did not represent the ‘positive way of being’.  I didn’t include space for that person perspective or understanding.  It would have been just fine to let that pass without showing my feelings about it.  I didn’t realize people were watching me like that, until that feedback.  I realized the standard for those promoting this work is important to model.

3. Be an invisible gate-keeper.  All people have gifts and contributions, not all are ready for the intermingle and mix in Circle.  Find ways to include people and give them a role appropriate to their current level of restorative justice.  We once had someone in a volunteer orientation Circle, refuse to share anything about herself since she didn’t yet know everyone else.  A few rounds later, after people had opened up about why they were volunteering, she learned some were giving back after being given a 2nd chance drug court program.  When the talking piece came to her she scolded us saying “I didn’t know I would be with criminals!”  We assigned her data entry, so she could see evaluation form comments.  She also helped with a fundraising event.  I went back and checked in with the “criminals”, a word I avoid, using x-offender or the persons name.  Thankfully, it opened up a discussion about expecting that from community, and that is “a price paid when you break the law”.  I got to affirm the accountability of the person referenced and labeled.

4. Silently Mentor.  Prepare people for the anticipated and unanticipated possibilities in Circle.  We have a reflection round after storytellers.  Sometimes the emotions leave people wanting to escape or avoid those, so they themselves rationalize or minimize harmful behavior.  For example, after hearing from someone who killed someone after driving impaired, a reflection was offered “it’s not your fault, he got in the car with you”.  Coach people to listen with an understanding they don’t have to take everything to heart.  Have your radar on and your listening engaged to make sure everyone, from every angle of the Circle can feel supported.  You can check-in politely with people, offer ways they can reframe their sharing.  One volunteer told those at the Underage Consumption Circle, that “you drank to get drunk, your an alcoholic”, I later checked in, she really believed that.  Her life expereinces were limited and she thought that was the way things were.  I suggested that perhaps she not label others behavior, but speak from an experience of her own.  Strong feelings are welcome, they belong in Circle, people need to be able have healing through feeling, once labeled or judged, the opportunity gets smaller.  She understood the value of not labeling, given the opportunity to expresss and explain herself.

5. Honor preferences.  Listening to what is important and helpful and do things to show volunteers you care.  One volunteer is a smoker, and he has anxiety before sharing his story.  The storytelling isn’t until an hour or more into the Circle.  His pre-speech jitters would usually be to rest with a cigarette, that outlet is not possible, we always start and complete our Circles together.  He likes to chew on small suckers, Dum-Dums to stay calm.  Our candy jar hasn’t been without the little candy, since we learned this.  One of our welcoming office behaviors is to immediately offer a bottle of water or cup of coffee.  A new volunteer says they like tea, so we stock tea.  Another loved a new coffee flavor, so we have that coffee on hand.  The little things make a big difference.  Show people they are respected, that they belong and that they are important to your program and work.

 

In what ways to you honor volunteers or support survivors?

Restorative Justice made me a better Rodeo Clown!

My friend wanted to have a birthday around her bucket list item of getting on a mechanical bull.  So I helped by making a flyer, and rodeo numbers for party guests.  As the day approached, I teased someone I was gonna have “Happy Birthday” on my bloomers, so when I fell off the bull that would show.  We had a good laugh about that and somehow the joke that I would be the rodeo clown was born.  In 24 hours I had gathered things for an outfit, including a cowboy hat with curly rainbow clown hair!

At a nice place at the Mall of America, I went to the restroom as me, and emerged and Bandi the Rodeo Clown.  I got looks, and laughs, kids wanted to take pictures with me.

Someone asked me if I had been a clown before.  I guess my skills looked experienced.  As I reflected on this silly evening of fun, I recognized the parallels and contributions that being a Restorative Justice practitioner provided me!

Courage to be different.  It’s becoming more recognized that we need to address social-emotional learning in schools, and we need to address first-offenses differently.  We need to change the way we do business when it comes to changing behavior.  My work takes me alongside courts, human services, corrections, and approaching it from a very different model.  Asking what people need, where others ask what they deserve sets me apart sometimes.  Service providers are moving much closer to Restorative Justice, with trauma-informed work, needs assessment and services that consider how to help instead of just how to punish.

Tenacity.  If you watch the video, I try quite a few times.  Despite the obvious fact that stockings are way to slippery, I try to make a decent ride.  To keep a non-profit going, constant juggling of needs and priorities: board, finances, staff, services, marketing, grants, volunteers.  I keep the majority of Circles and maintain a caseload.

Emotional Climate.  I accidentally went right off the otherside on my first try to get on that bull, that is where the video starts.  I got a lot of laughs, so much so, later I intentionally go right over the top to make everyone laugh.  When teaching or training I usually share these two piece of wisdom:

A smile is the first stage of healing.

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.

I didn’t invent those statements, I’ve just used them so much I don’t remember where I heard or learned them.  They have become the way I believe, live and act.

When Restorative Justice becomes part of the fiber of your being, you live the message.  Not perfectly, we are human.  It seems to me I lived out some of Restorative Justice when I did something for the relationship, and the manner in which I was Bandi.  You can see what you think!

http://youtu.be/zW1fClRv4-o

 

 

Funding for Restorative Justice, 6 tips and suggestions, from a decade old RJ program.

I was recently asked (blog comment) for references on grants for Restorative Justice at both the State and National levels.  I thought others might appreciate the information I could share on obtaining and maintain Restorative Justice funding (it’s not just about the grants).  Funding comes in 3 streams for non-profits, if your Restorative Justice program is not a non-profit, but a program you can still use these tips.  

The 3 ways of income are 1)fee for service/contract 2)grants and 3)donations/public support.   It can be challenging to compete for grant dollars these days, cuts in government funding has created more competition for grants.  Raising credibility so that programs are required and fee for services can be set, takes authentic and genuine relationship building.  It requires understanding systems, and creating RESTORATIVE programs that address community needs.  Challenges in defining and marketing your work need to be overcome in order to get the individual donated dollar.  It is not easy and it takes a great deal of work.  The following tips can help guide your efforts in raising revenue for staff and programs.

The first tip . . . use foundational Restorative Justice approaches in your grant/funding relationships!  That means, respect, relationship and responsibility.  Call the agencies you are looking to apply to.  Be clear in what you intend to do.  Study up, don’t ask for $500,000 from an organization that makes $5,000 grants.  Think from the others point of view.  I’m very passionate about Restorative Justice, and it can be hard to understand rejections.  Make a follow-up call, send a thank you letter for the response and opportunity to apply.  Seems counter-intuitive to your time, yet, it sets you up for role modeling the values of Restorative Justice!  Spend time building relationships, be respectful.

When applying for grants be very clear on what you intend to do, and how you will create the outcomes, the grantor is looking for.  Design your work to the mission and vision of Restorative Justice.  Frame your work as addressing public health issues, and demonstrate outcomes, specific changes your work will provide.  Don’t change or stretch so far you are grasping for cash and not doing REAL restorative justice work.

#2 – set your value and create multiple ways to pay.  You want services to be accessible, and if your program does diversion, you want equity in access.  That means that if a person can’t afford services, you need to create alternate forms of payment.  At SCVRJP we offer community service for payment, and you can attend Circles as part of community service.  We have set fees for service based on choices the offender has in the system.  For example it is $75 to reinstate your drivers license, and our Underage Consumption Class is $60.  Consider all the factors in setting your fees, speak to your partners.  We raised our prices and lost a referral agency, that cost us $10,000!

#3 Give back, I call it “pro bono” or “tithing”  I feel there is a certain amount that SCVRJP should do.  Over the years we have had to narrow down what we can do “pro bono”, so I offer scholarships on a case by case basis, rather than listed on every training sign up form.  We used to have programs that didn’t have a related funding, now all programs are connected to a specific funding stream.  We DO NOT charge victims, and no RJ program should do that, however, we have grants and fundraisers around those aspects of programs!  You create a certain amount of social equity in strong relationships, reaching out to others and yet is is VERY, VERY necessary to live within your means and budget, be mindful of what you ‘give away’.

#4 Don’t go out of your area for $.  Contracts for SCVRJP typically come in the forms of training.  Be cautious when chasing down this funding stream.  I have seen community providers of Restorative Justice go and train at schools, without any experience of School-based Restorative Justice.  It is not just transferrable to teach teachers how to do a victim-offender conference.  It is necessary to work and train on what you have an expertise or understanding of.  Rushing ahead and training on Restorative Justice, regardless of your understanding and experience actually sets implementation back than moving it ahead.  For the greater good of the movement itself, find a credible and be credible in trainings and contracts.  It will help the field itself if contracts are delivered in a way that RESULTS happen.

#5 Budget wisely, use diverse leadership.  SCVRJP has been blessed, we have grown from a budget of $20,000 – – to $180,000.  It takes a great deal of dedicated work.  I literally put in the hours of a small business owner to make it work.  I put in the long hours, but I didn’t do it alone, consultation and support of board members has made SCVRJP successful.  Difficult decisions need to be made, you will be surprised what you can learn to do with less.  We had to cut the snacks, at Circle (yet I know fundamentally you serve food) we also cut our janitor services, and have to take turns cleaning our office.  You share in the responsibility of earning and spending money – from upper level board members to all staff knowing the financial status of your organization.

#6 Be fearless and real.  A few years ago, I told myself, when SCVRJP got into using our “reserve” funds, I was going to look for another job.  That MIGHT have been a full 3 years ago.  At this point I can’t imagine doing anything else, despite SCVRJP not have a specific account of “reserve funds”.  I don’t know what the future holds, I know it might look very different for SCVRJP.  A major funder has put us on notice, we are hopeful to create a new business plan.  I will keep applying the tips i’ve outlined.

If this blog post has been helpful . . . please consider a donation to SCVRJP!

 

From offender to storyteller, part 1.

For the last 9 years I have had the wonderful blessing and opportunities of Restorative Justice work.  From victim-offender dialogue from the simple to the most serious, to 1,000’s of Restorative Justice Circles.  Training others, blogging and teaching a college course has served me well in having to stay connected to science, theory and evidence-based information.  The most crucial and influential skills I have developed combine research and the personal experience of helping offenders and survivors become effective storytellers in Restorative Justice settings.

SCVRJP utilizes storytellers as part of the majority of Circles, and at our Victim Impact Panels.  Over the years I have developed a simple format for our storytellers.  I ask them to memorize, using a mental visual of a baseball diamond, Intro, Incident, Impact, Reflection.  You can even tap thumb to fingertip, saying I, I, I, R to help.  Speakers/storytellers have LIVED through the experience, so they know the ‘story’.  Many bring in the perceived expectations of others and try to be professional speakers.  What works well, is to be themselves and speak from the heart.  Some speakers spend just a few visits with me, as we prepare the context of the story (Restorative).  We also expose the speakers to our process (having them attend a Victim Impact Panel or Circle).

We recently held a Circle for a new speaker.  The speaker had driven impaired, survived the crash, and someone died as a result of the injuries from the crash.  We use CRASH over ACCIDENT, choices were made.  Like everyone I’ve met in this situation the person didn’t intend that kind of harm to result.  Intended or not, people’s lives were tragically impacted by the death.  The criminal justice system responds to these kinds of harms, restorative justice responds with support and expectations of accountability, acknowledged the responsibility of causing the harm.

Different people have different ways of handling incidents when they didn’t intend on the harm.  Some quickly go to a deep remorse and responsibility.  Others have a ‘dance’ and need support in working through the need to rationalize, justify, minimize and blame.  When you believe deep down you are a good decent person, how do you hold that you are now a murder?  Your actions ended a life.  This creates a deep moral and psychological dilemma.  For increased public safety and the future functioning of the individual – we MUST move people to the good decent person.

Something a decent person who killed someone in a traffic crash (impaired or not) can do . . . tell the story in hopes that others will avoid a similar incident.  SOOOO important is to work through and eliminate the rationalizations, justifications, minimization and blaming aspects.  You have to work with storytellers to find the deep core, value and center of who they are.  You have got to provide the support to let them know that they are still a worthwhile person, despite the incident.  Storytelling is a step to making amends and changing for the better.

Link here for the tips in using, and here for additional blog posts on storytelling.  Neuroscience research has validated that stories a brain-based tools for change.  Stories sync our brains, allow new ideas to be planted (article). From Forbes :

When it comes to inspiring people to embrace some strange new change in behavior, storytelling isn’t just better than the other tools. It’s the only thing that works.

As a Restorative Justice nonprofit, volunteer development is key!

One of the elements St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program (SCVRJP) provides is volunteer in-service opportunities.  This was designed to provide on-going training to volunteers.  Session volunteering is always focused on providing the service.  The volunteer in-service is a time and place for volunteers to build relationships with each other, with SCVRJP staff and with the concepts and philosophy of Restorative Justice.

In-service topics have included having guests from a neighboring program share their experiences.  SCVRJP held an in-service on brain-based change, showing volunteers and the public connections between evidence based practices and Restorative Justice.  Tonight we will be watching a film called Room to Breathe.  In-service sessions are worked within our busy schedule, and provide alternative times for people to be part of our program.  We usually have a dozen of our 50-70 volunteers attend these offerings.  We promote these as “open to the public” hoping to engage people by topic, that might then become volunteers.

Holding these sessions is another way for SCVRJP to deliver on the stakeholder triad of Restorative Justice (victim, offender, community).  This wonderful graphic from IIRP:

rjtypologyThe graphic shows “communities of care reconciliation”, at SCVRJP, we consider everyone within our geopgraphy part of our community.  SCVRJP reaches out to share what we do with the public by engaging social groups, faith-based organizations and offering training and in-service sessions.

Board members are volunteers, another structure of SCVRJP is to have board members attend sessions.  This provides an element of “quality control” and guarantees SCVRJP leadership is in close contact to what we do.  Historically, not that long a go, when SCVRJP was very new, board members also facilitated sessions.  Smaller or new Restorative Justice programs may still be in that same position.  As you grow, it is still helpful to have board members participate in what you do.  Asking a board member to attend one session outside of the regular board meetings is enough to keep the entire board engaged.

A SCVRJP board member, explained how helpful attending an in-service session was.  It was the expectation that board members attend sessions, that led to a board member in a volunteer in-service session.

Development is learning over time.  Volunteer development, allows your volunteers to develop as your program develops.  What we hear, can greatly be influenced by what we already know.  Sometimes what we think is a truth in the morning we can learn by sunset is no longer true.  Myths begin with slight mis-communications.  At SCVRJP we offer half a dozen different programs, and volunteers might assume what they know about one session, applies to all.  That isn’t accurate, and one victim-offender dialogue could have different nuances than another.  It is important to have a consistent message on what your program is doing, key concepts, core philosophical approaches and a pulse on your programs ambassadors to the public, your volunteers.  A volunteer in-service session gives time to clarify these questions or myths that might develop.

Managing a business or a non-profit requires juggling multiple roles and responsibilities.  I’ve used it so much I don’t know where I found it, but I have post-it notes and listed these 5 in lots of places.  Priorities for successful non-profits: 1)Service Delivery 2)Outcome Measures 3)Financial management system 4)Fundraising plan 5)Demonstrate impact, capacity and sustainability.  Taking the time to care, connect and develop volunteers helps move an agency to success or maintain the existing success.  Good luck with your program!

Connecting with the community, nonprofit networking promotes mission & vision.

St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program, SCVRJP began from an idea, just 12 and a half years ago and now services and programs have reached nearly 2,000 in just the first half of 2012.  Many dedicated board members, staff, volunteers, supporters and partners have helped develop and create the nonprofit that “promotes peace & belonging utilizing restorative justice principles & practices” (the mission of SCVRJP).

The nature of Restorative Justice is involve the community in repairing harm.  What Restorative Justice views as harm, is often times often labeled by a particular crime or violation of school code.  Harm, is anything that violates the integrity of another person.  Many times that can extend beyond what laws offer for protection.  If harm doesn’t have the criminal or legal definition, then those systems can’t engage as they might with situations that meet criminal and legal definitions.  SCVRJP focuses on our mission and addresses peace & belonging from building community to responding to crime and harm.

Our work with schools has been developed over time.  Our services are offered  and accepted as schools find value in the process of Circles and the use of Restorative Measures.

The mission of peace & belonging was demonstrated as SCVRJP was busy, helping teachers that will be using Circles as part of an advisory program.  Demonstrations and trainings included student mentors (upper classmen) to have role models in the freshman advisory groups.  It was easy to train on this topic, since SCVRJP engages community mentors in Circles.  Volunteers that support the philosophy, role model the process and provide input to repair the harm.  The feedback from these Circles was positive, that students and staff were able to see each other in a different light.  Confidence was built about using the Circle process and each Circle no matter the topic improves and builds your connections to community.  SCVRJP hosted 7 Circles in one afternoon!

When the harm in our community, the harm of suicide became a concern and a public forum (2010) was held, SCVRJP responded with Circles to support those impacted.  This has evolved into an entire program of services called Restorative Response.  Now SCVRJP is and can be present for any group requesting a Circle after being impacted by sudden, tragic loss – often times in situations of homicide, suicide, traffic fatality, drug overdose.  SCVRJP also offers monthly support group, Restorative Response Circles (6 week sessions) and informal support through a volunteer, match by the bereavement relationship (parent to parent, spouse to spouse).  This program also includes a Grieving Families Guide, which developed after a state trooper listened, and created a resource.  An SCVRJP volunteer, brought that resource to SCVRJP and asked, “can we do this”?  The Guide was distributed on May 31, 2012, and the resource is available to area law enforcement, medical responders, hospitals, grief support groups and is intended to be delivered within the first 48 hours of an un-natural death.  For more details or to obtain copies contact SCVRJP at SCVRJP@gmail.com.  For those outside our service area, the resource can be purchased at a minimal cost to cover printing.

SCVRJP connects with community issues, and attends as many requests as possible.  The O’Connell Funeral Home and St. Bridgets Church hosted a Grief speaker, Richard Obershaw, author of Cry until you Laugh.  SCVRJP hosted a information table, shared resources and connected with community members.  The presentation included the importance of storytelling and sharing grief, the same methods the Restorative Response program provides.  Nonprofit networking includes being present for those that are sharing your message and collaborating with partners to build on strengths and connections.  These connections can them promote your mission and others relate our message.

I was saying thanks for the opportunity, and I had to ask who suggested SCVRJP as a resource.  I was informed the suggestion came from several different places, “your marketing is working well”.  I smiled knowing that the best marketing is a service delivered well.  If peace & belonging our experienced people say good things.  It is each “good thing” that builds on another.  SCVRJP is conducting Circles around some very painful topics, and with some very tender audiences.  The responses are very positive, without our history and background, those doors would not have opened and those invitations not made.  We owe those that have paved the way, as much as we owe those willing to openly express their grief, trauma, resilience and reflections on harmful incidents.  That is community pulling together and that is what promotes the mission of peace & belonging.

 

 

 

Support for responding, reacting or restorative-ing.

St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program utilizes the principles and process of Restorative Justice to address public health issues of impaired driving, underage consumption, controlled substance use, disorderly conduct, and other conflicts/crimes that are referred and appropriate for Restorative Justice.  We’ve developed a strong program utilizing community members, storytelling and Restorative Justice Circles.

RJ – Restorative Justice – is vicitm-centered, in a world of process for offenders.  The discipline, sanction, punishment models are very different, however a source of referrals, and an introduction of a harmful incident to a Restorative process.

Case flow from incident to SCVRJP.  SCVRJP has grown to be a trusted and effective option for many.  For others, the program is not utilized, dismissed or misunderstood.  As the Executive Director, I carry a great deal of passion about the work we do.  I am a true believer in Restorative Justice.  I get to make important decisions on a daily basis about responding or reacting.  I train our volunteers and I seek to live the values of RJ and utilize Respect, Responsibility and Relationship as best I can.

Others might be faced with similiar challenges of feeling undervalued, dismissed or misunderstood.  These may root from the intentional or UNintentional actions of others.  They may root from your own perceptions, expereinces or lenses.  Recent tragic events may trigger your need to do more, say more, right the wrong.  For that, I’d like to share a resource I discovered – LINK.  You’ll find some strategic advice, and a poem that I wanted to share:

You can’t be all things to all people.

You can’t do all things at once.

You can’t do all things equally well.

You can’t do all things better than everyone else.

Your humanity is showing just like everyone else’s.

 

So: You have to find out who you are, and be that.

You have to decide what comes first, and do that.

You have to discover your strengths, and use them.

You have to learn not to compete with others,

Because no one else is in the contest of *being you*.

Then:

You will have learned to accept your own uniqueness.

You will have learned to set priorities and make decisions.

You will have learned to live with your limitations.

You will have learned to give yourself the respect that is due.

And you’ll be a most vital mortal.

 

Dare To Believe:

That you are a wonderful, unique person.

That you are a once-in-all-history event.

That it’s more than a right, it’s your duty, to be who you are.

That life is not a problem to solve, but a gift to cherish.

And you’ll be able to stay one up on what used to get you down.

You can’t be all things to all

Restorative Justice stakeholders discuss program experience.

 Valentine’s Day 2012 was a good one!  Judges, court clerks, law enforcement, social workers, fellow nonprofit providers, clergy, attorney’s and victim advocates attended a stakeholder meeting hosted by SCVRJP.  (New website launched today – check it out!)

The panel speakers came from a variety of backgrounds and experiences with Restorative Justice.

Randy shared the experience of losing his daughter, after a drunk driver, only a month older, caused a crash that took her life.  We reached out to Randy, and only after his own reckless driving, and deferred prosecution, did he engage with SCVRJP.  He now continues to volunteer, continues to share the gut wrenching and painful story of life without Alyssa.

Mark, a probation agent, explained his interaction with Restorative Justice.  He provided a case example, where the former “all american-kid” with no record caused a traffic fatality.  The young man, the former all-american, still volunteers telling his story.  The agent verified the work and outcomes of Restorative Justice.

Local prosecutor shared how he uses the program, offers “carrots”, which I explained to others can look like a stick!

A community volunteer shared her experiences with SCVRJP and Restorative Justice.  She explained the connections between prevention, intervention and treatment of health issues.  She had examples at every level, Circles that provided successful outcomes with each.

A middle school counselor shared using Circles in school, to develop emotional connections for students.  A college student shared his experience, relating how a blackout resulted in frightening a community member.  He shared how meeting with the victim helped the victim, helped him.  He shared the meeting started a little tense, yet was helpful to both parties.  He also shared getting two hugs on arrival, one from the RJ facilitator and the other from the victim.

SCVRJP collected surveys on what works, what’s needed and other helpful comments.  The power in the meeting was some brainstorming about potential sessions.  We showed people what we do, when Randy shared part of his story.  Each speaker provided a different perspective, building on the evidence that Restorative Justice works.

I feel so blessed to get to work in a community program providing Restorative Justice.  SCVRJP has specialized in Restorative Justice Circles.  We are starting year 11 of serving our community and today, was a perfect celebration of a community coming together and finding healing, connection and prevention!

 

 

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

 

 

Running a Restorative Justice Nonprofit – fuel of worry or full of faith?

A New Year – a time where we update our referral forms, prepare new schedules, touch up evaluation forms, start a new budget.  For the last two years St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice has been down sizing in space and staff while sessions have been added.  What we earn in fees barely covers the expense of operation.  Funding from grants has declined.  We are living the way many are “do more with less”.

From a fortune cookie:

Energy is equal to desire and purpose.

I have a lot of energy and passion for Restorative Justice, my desire for a successful mission and purposeful outcomes is at 110% most days.  My energy doesn’t cover payroll, rent or operating costs.  Just as SCVRJP has limited financial resources.  I have limited energy.  How I engage the energy of others is crucial right now.  From board members, session volunteers, friends and supportors of SCVRJP, this new year, will require us to lean on faith and abandon worry.

Worry doesn’t get much done.  Faith, will help us remember to be thankful for what we have.  Faith will help us make wise choices about our energy and resources.  Faith will draw others in, and worry may very well scare them off.

Restorative Justice asks a lot of people.  Acknowledging the wrong, or sharing how you were impacted takes courage.  The journey to healing, to repairing to growing is not always easy.  Restorative Justice takes faith in humanity.  Restorative Justice takes faith in the good of others.  You still do the work, you still prepare, you challenge your wounds with values.  You nuture life (yours and others) with acknowledging that we all make mistakes we can all be better.  No one can stop you from wanting more from your life.  No one can stop you from making changes that make things better for you and for those around you.

Oh ugh, I am going to have to practice what I blog!  I learned that a good blog includes an ah-ha moment.  Well this is mine, and hopefully yours.  Running a Restorative Justice non-profit takes faith.  The same type of faith needed for Restorative Justice!

  • Faith in others – I trust good people will support the program, with time, talents or cash!
  • Faith in the future – I trust SCVRJP will be around another 11 years and many more!
  • Faith in yourself – I trust I can manage my resources wisely (including reducing my worry)

I plan to do some research on successful Restorative Justice programs – independent nonprofits, programs within institutions and to examine, what common themes are involved in successful programs.  In partnership with my coursework – (PhD in nonprofit administration) I hope to provide a model or structure that brings success to nonprofits providing Restorative Justice.

What do you think?  What agency comes to mind, when I ask you about a successful Restorative Justice Program?