Restorative Justice (RJ) is a conflict transformation and healing process. Rooted in the Native American tradition, it stems from their desire to maintain sovereignty. We have borrowed this process to address harm in the criminal justice system and disrupt the racial disproportionality of suspensions at schools. It is also used in communities and organizations to strengthen relationships and resolve disputes.
Restorative Justice process is led by a Circle keeper in a circle formation. Participants are invited to speak using a Talking Piece. Talking piece is an object that is passed from one person to the other to indicate who is speaking and ensure that each person has a chance to be heard. The talking piece brings equity of voice and deeper listening to the space.
The Circle keeper guides the dialog by asking questions, and the Circle process relies on the values and wisdom of the community. Participants are asked to explore the issue at hand, think together, and identify ways to support, (re)build trust, and move forward. For Circles about conflicts, rather than to assign blame, RJ asks: "What happened?" "Who was affected?" "What can we do to make it right?"The RJ process encourages the participants to listen, reflect, and reconcile.
Restorative Justice holds harmers accountable and at the same time gives support and encouragement to make amends. It also attends to the harmed by asking what they need. More than a methodology, Restorative Justice is a way of being. The Circle invites the participants to be restorative and work together to resolve conflicts.
Restorative Justice Circles
Healing from Conflict and Harm