Not everyone sees restorative justice equally.

One of the WordPress features, is seeing what people have entered in search engines, that directed them to my blog.  In October  someone searched “restorative justice doesn’t work” and was somehow given this blog as an option, and clicked here.

I am glad readers come from all views and opinions of restorative justice.  Ok, true confession, I am glad this blog hasn’t gotten alot of negative comments.  I try to have thick skin, but we’ve all seen those comment sections that get downright rude.  Having said that, as practitioners we are going to face people with a variety of views on Restorative Justice.

This link, is to a post where I talk about Belinda Hopkins 5 levels of engagement.  Here is the Hopkins rating again:

4 – Being Restorative – a mindset and framework at all times

3- Doing – You facilitate process

2-Referring– you pass cases on to RJ

1- Interested – curious about using RJ

0 – Unaware or ignorant to what RJ is

1 – Opposed or against RJ

Dan Van Ness from RJOB, found recent reactions to RJ fell into 3 categories:  (from his blog post)  “The comments seem to fall into three categories: 1) one group is simply supportive of the new approach, 2) another likes it in theory but believes it will not work, and 3) the third argues that only sanctions that engender fear will reduce youth offending.”

I think people are ready lock up others . . . until it their own family member.  I think people can say “I believe it, but it won’t work” until their own lives force them to be in a place where deep respect, honest communication, and conflict resolution is needed.  Although I am a deeply optimistic person, I can accept there are and will be people that will just never move off of the Hopkins ratings (0 or -1).  I spend my energy on the people that move from a 1 to a 2 to a 3 and then to a 4.  (future post).

Yesterday I had a networking meeting, getting to know a local attorney in solo practice.  He made an excellent point about situations that come up and force people to think differently.  He mentioned a situation, I was well aware of.  The incident forced the community  to face the fact that it’s not just “bad kids” that get in trouble.  He talked about how people were forced to realize it’s not just “them”, “others” that kids can make mistakes, even the hometown high school quarterback.

I can’t count the times people have told me this case would have been “PERFECT” for restorative justice.  I even actually ‘chased the ambulance’ and at the prompting of my board of directors I sent a letter to the a victim representative, and the prosecutors.  Nearly 3 years ago, a group of high school students, did a senior “prank” and vandalized other schools.  They did this in a manner to make it look like students from a different school were the perpetrators.  Three years later and this case is still being identified as  “perfect” for restorative justice, yet we never got the referral.  Why?

I look at the charts above.  Someone somewhere wasn’t ready.  They must have been at a 1 or lower on the Hopkins Model or a 2 or 3 on the VanNess groupings.

I reflect on this, and I hope I’ve moved our program ahead.  I think I have.  One local prosecutor is sending cases, much more frequently than he did 3 years ago.  SCVRJP is renting a second room, to have space for more Circles.  Our board of directors is really connected and committed.  I think these are good signs.  Signs that maybe the next time a incident that comes up, forcing people to see the good kids differently, then maybe we will get an opportunity to use Restorative Justice.

Until then, I’m gonna have a great time working on the cases I do have, and continuing to let the Restorative Justice principles guide my actions and support all my relationships.

mitakuye oyasin