I am on my way to Morgantown to attend a symposium focusing on Prisons in Appalachia. Saturday morning, I will be joining a fabulous roundtable discussion on Restorative Justice and Alternative Sentencing tomorrow morning featuring Judge Michael Aloi, Jacqueline Roebuck Sacko, Jim Nolan and Valena Beety. In my portion of the session I’ll be providing a bit of an introduction to restorative justice. Of course, I’m relying heavily on the work of Howard Zehr in discussing the framework of RJ and will also be focusing on Dan Van Ness's proposal to consider restorative justice as a continuum, rather than a specific practice or program. I am planning to conclude my short talk with a discussion of one of the cases that I worked on when the parties included restorative processes within the framework of a conventional criminal case.
In the introduction to my short paper I’ve prepared, I discuss trying to define restorative justice. Restorative justice is another way of looking at harmful wrongdoing. With restorative justice we change our focus from looking at what law was violated into what wrong has occurred and how has that wrong caused harm. While restorative justice is often associated with specific practices such as a victim offender conference or circle sentencing, Howard Zehr, suggests that restorative justice may be best defined by a group of core values and principles. Those principles and values require an inclusive process that involves the stakeholders allowing for the identification of the harm and a collaborative effort to make right the wrongs. Zehr lists five basic principles that guide restorative practices: (1) Focus on the harm and consequent needs of the victim, community and offender, (2) Involve those with a stake in the outcome, (3) Address the obligations that result from the harms, (4) Use inclusive, collaborative processes, and (5) Seek to put right the wrongs. Adjunct and central to these principles are the core values of restorative justice that focus on respect and humility.
The short paper I’ve prepared for the panel is available in PDF by clicking here:
Please contact me if you would like further information or to discuss the options available through restorative justice.