How is this for “Justice” . . . and really what is “justice”?

Some confidentiality here to protect people. 

A 17 year old purchases marijuana from a classmate.  “Seller” is caught by law enforcement, “seller” identifies purchaser.  “Purchaser” is called in for investigation.  Initially denies purchase, then negotiates, asks questions, admits.  Purchaser turns over the $15 bag of pot.  Purchaser given “grace” by the Police Officer, and then is called in as a witness to testify against “seller”.  Purchaser received check from the County of Residence for $24.42, mileage or witness fee.  Seller facing criminal charges, expulsion from school, served jail time.  Sure, he was the “seller” sold to others.   “Purchaser” – gets paid.  By the ‘system’ . . . are you shaking your head.  Is this confusing?  Some have found it funny.  It is pretty ironic.  I can’t make much sense of it.enforcement_law_207387

One of my favorite things about Restorative Justice is that it is unique, case from case, Circle from Circle.  The overall philosophy or Restorative Justice, governs each case or process, yet there is total freedom to see what evolves in each setting based on the individuals attending.  It’s interesting to see what rises up and needs to be healed.  Adoption issues between Mother and son have emerged, from the son attending for doing vandalism.  Sharing a story of Mom’s checks being stolen is healing for a community member.  Another community member/volunteer had a real love for animals and was able to support his value, when speaking to an offender who had shot a neighbors dog.  So I never really know, what will happen, and I like that.  And just as I question the ‘justice system’, I realize ‘restorative justice’ can also mean many different things.

I’m getting tested here lately.  Applying and doing Restorative Justice in some pretty unique places, settings and situations.

The first is that victim and offender still live together.  All under one roof, the offender has been on probation for two months.  Issues aren’t resolved and the use of Restorative Justice is being utilized.  The person referring the case gave voice to the family turning this into a therapy session.  My response was that we could focus on the Restorative dialogue around the crime, and that by healing that piece, just one little piece of healing could change the whole relationship.  See I used to be a family therapist.  That was on my mind as I was listening to all the aspects of this case.  I do wonder how this will go.

Another situation in front of me, is where a parent has one child the victim and the other the offender.  The crime was so serious, so violent, one child is dead.  I’m learning so much about being there for someone, being a place of nonjudgemental being.  Leaving my need of fixing out of it, yet being aware that I manage self care for myself and not take on the ‘toxic’ of such a violent crime.  And being honest, where does Restorative Justice come in, fit in to a situation so severe?  Right now I don’t need the answers, Parent and I are getting to know each other.  I’ve been trusted to be witness to the story and the experiences of the parent.

It leads to me question what this all means “justice”.  I know our legal sustem attempts to serve justice – but to who and and what cost.  I don’t think its effective.  And ‘restorative justice’ . . . what does that mean – is my net getting to big with these out of the normal requests?

I like the messy places.  I like the confusing edges between two very different things.  I’m drawn to the bringing together of those that seem least likely to be productive when put together. 

So if I am wondering what justice is . . . it’s probably a healthy question.