Restorative Justice helps repair harm while improving self-esteem and accountability
Restorative Justice is about building, maintaining and repairing relationships. It allows us to repair harm when we do things that impact others. The Utah Legislature has recently passed several pieces of legislation recognizing the effectiveness of restorative justice practices in the context of schools and the juvenile court system.
Restorative Justice in the Community
Living and working in a community is about relationships--between individuals, neighbors, civic organizations, law enforcement, small businesses
, landlords/tenants, and academic institutions. We need to work together to create a thriving and positive community. Restorative justice approaches can be used proactively to build strong, positive relationships and prevent conflict and harmful behavior. This is often done using a basic restorative justice practice, the Circle. A Circle is a highly structured intentional space deigned to build relationships by promoting community. MMC has a cadre of experienced Circle facilitators that can develop and lead Circles to strengthen relationships and build community within these groups- prior to conflict and harmful behavior occurring.
Restorative justice practices, such as victim-offender conferencing, can also be used when a conflict or a harmful situation has already occurred, MMC can bring the parties together to talk about what happened, how the participants were impacted and what needs to be done to repair the harm.
Restorative Justice in the Justice System
Victim - Offender Conferencing ("VOC")
After a harm has occurred, MMC can bring together victims and offenders to talk about what happened. During a victim-offender conference, victims have an opportunity to share how the offender’s actions impacted them. Family members and other members of the community that were impacted also have an opportunity to participate. Rather than simply punishing the offender, the process encourages participants to discuss how the harm affected them and what needs to be done to repair the harm. This often results in a greater sense of accountability and awareness on the part of the offender.
Restorative Justice in Schools
Mountain Mediation Center is committed to assisting local schools in implementing restorative justice practices. Restorative practices are used proactively to build relationships and a sense of community within classrooms before any harm has occurred. Students will learn the importance of accountability and empathy as well as effective communication skills. Since conflict is inevitable, students also learn conflict resolution skills and how to repair harm once it has occurred. Replacing the traditional punitive form of discipline with restorative practices in schools can help promote self-esteem and collaborative problem-solving among students. Research has shown that the implementation of restorative practices in schools is effective in interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline, a national trend where minority students are funneled out of public schools into the juvenile justice system at disproportionate rates, resulting in lower graduation rates for this group.