Use a restorative belief system, to implement Restorative Justice.

From the book Tribes, by Seth Godin, author, blogger, speaker and agent of change:


People don’t believe what you tell them.

They rarely believe what you show them.

The often believe what their friends tell them.

They ALWAYS belive what they tell themselves.

What leaders do: they give people stories they can tell themselves.  Stories about the future and about change.

I love making connections to Restorative Justice.  I have learned that stories are the best way to do this.  When you believe in restoration and healing you work from a mindset, a framework and a philosophical approach.  Howard Zehr has a blog entry about the core capacities of a restorative justice practitioner, and that is exactly what I am speaking of.

I believe in being a leader, and I especially appreciate Godin’s segment above (page 138, Tribes) that says leaders give people stories they can tell themselves.  As restorative justice practitioners I think its easy (most of the time) to hold the restorative mindset, or support victims.  Generally victims seeking restorative justice are searching for some healing, some answers or at very least know they want to have an exchange.  When working with offenders, its digging deeper into these stories into stories about the future and about change.

An example, working with someone not yet 21.  He’s been convicted of drunk driving, and assualt, the assualt happened while he was intoxicated.  After attending an underage consumption panel, he wanted to help out more.  We met and discussed what happened, he talked.  I listened.  He talked alot, he shared WAY more than he needed to.  I’ve been reading people all my life, and I am pretty good about sorting out lies.  This young man plead guilty, in his words he lied, to take the plea deal, since he was facing charges involving strangulation, a felony.  I had to take him back and ‘re-story’ things a bit, since he was going to be sharing his story at a future session.

I pointed him back to the first slide of a powerpoint we were just looking at.  It said “Judge None”, I explained that means not judging the courts, the police officers, the people in the system doing their jobs.  We then focused on the things that HE could have changed about that night.  Again from Godin: “stories about the future and about change.” 

That is doing justice.  If this young man’s story, what he told himself anyway, had remained at, the police officers got it wrong, the courts not working, him being forced to lie that wouldn’t have prompted much change within himself.  Now I have him focusing in on himself, what he wants for his life.  We had a longer conversation after this point.  He again shared way more than he needed to, but that gave me an opportunity to empower him to make more choices for himself, that took him in a positive way.

I believe restorative justice works.  I am promoting that if we as pracititioners tell our stories, in ways that help others change what they tell themselves, then we’ll be implementing things much faster.  Find out what people are telling themselves, listen to it, and see if there is room for restorative re-storying!