Restorative Justice Project

20181031_155330.jpgWhat is Restorative Justice?

Restorative Justice works to reduce “criminal” behaviors and recidivism by helping perpetrators form relationships with others and develop and practice empathy.

Our current system for “dealing with” unwanted behaviors is punitive.  Research and analysis shows that punitive consequences typically result in the perpetrators repeating their behaviors.

An Example

Consider a typical junior high student, who is transitioning into a young adult… not quite a child, not quite an adult.  The child part continues to seek permission from those around the young person, the emerging yoing adult struggles to become an individual, yearning to be seen and heard, as they emerge from the shadows of their adult figures.

They “test” boundaries.  They “test” the waters. They “test” the unknown.

During these “tests,” unwanted and unintentional actions may occur.  When the young adult has their decisions minimized, mocked, and maltreated, they typically enter survival mode and respond thusly… as in “fight, flight, or freeze.”

How the other individuals respond at this time determines of the action becomes a traumatic memory, or a growth memory.

Possible Response #1 – Criminal Justice

With a criminal justice response, the student in the above example would be forced to “conform” with the rules.  Typically, they have no voice as the authority figure follows a set and rigid process.  This type of justice is successful as long as there is a “warden” constantly present in the individual’s life.  However, we know that “when the cat’s away, the mice will play.”  Therefore, Criminal Justice is limited in its “success rate” for curbing negative behavior.

Possible Response #2 – Restorative Justice

With a restorative justice approach, a relationship is established between the individuals.  When the conversation occurs, the individuals understand one another’s perspectives and identify ways to make things better for the future.

Does Restorative Justice Work in All Situations?

As with any learning curve, there may be two steps forward, and one step back, potentially huge callbacks. Changing the way a person thinks and responds to situations takes time, patience, and intentional support.

Learn more about Restorative Justice at