A Restorative Perspective
by Ted Lewis, Duluth, July 2020
As protests have spread across our nation during the first half of the summer of 2020, the powerful chant, “No Justice, No Peace,” has been spreading as well. In the wake of racist violence from police, triggered anew by the killing of George Floyd, it was understandable to increasing numbers of people that something had to change. If there was ever to be real peace, it had to stem from real justice.
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Want a Confederate Monument? My Body is a Confederate Monument
On June 26, 2020 the New York Times published Caroline R. Williams' powerful opinion editorial. It is an extraordinary critique of the revisionist history of racism, slavery, the Civil War and the veneration of "Hero's of the Southern Struggle". This is a must read essay for all U. S. citizens and residents. Use this LINK to access the editorial on the New York Times.
To download a PDF version of the essay use the hypertext link.
A recent NPR radio report on October 10, 2019, by Tovia Smith presented a new perspective that is not heard too often: "Growing Efforts Are Looking At How - Or If - #MeToo Offenders Can Be Reformed" (listen to the 7-minute audio version). This report features a man who voluntarily offered to be a surrogate offender in several "vicarious restorative justice" dialogue processes that included women who had been victimized by sexual assault.
Assisting these opportunities is a professor from Cal State University, Fullerton, Alissa Ackerman, who also teaches a course called "Sex, Crime, and Culture." As a proponent of restorative justice, Ackerman has extensively researched how sexual offendering can benefit from appropriate conversations. "No matter what somebody has done, no matter what somebody has experienced, their voice is important in understanding why it happens and what survivors need."
A powerful example of this work is now presented through a TED Talk, "Our Story of Rape and Reconciliation," which involves a man who took full responsibility for the harm he caused on his former girlfriend.
The NACRJ Board of Directors has approved guidelines for managing and implementing Restorative Practices in K-12 Education. This document offers essential elements of RPE and a basic implementation framework (e.g.Implementation Science and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support) for helping schools organize and develop their schoolwide plan. When developing an implementation plan, we encourage you to work with a diverse team of school community members, including students, and create opportunities to hear from the school-community at-large, thereby remaining true to the principles of RPE (relationships, healing harms, shared voice and power, equity, trauma-sensitivity), while valuing your school’s unique context and culture. A complete copy of the implementation guideline document is now posted on our website under the Policy section.
Last winter and spring the Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice conducted a 'listening project' with a cross-section of RJ stakeholders and practitioners in 5 different parts of the United States and one in British Columbia. The intention was to get a feel for “the state of the state” of restorative justice in the US and Canada—to take the pulse of where we are now as a movement, create a shared roadmap for the future, and offer recommendations to advocates and donors on how to resource and build the restorative justice movement in its North American context. Issues of race, privelege, and social change can be found threading throughout the report. In all, 130 people participated in the project sharing their views and perspectives.
Driving this project was this overall question: What is the maximum impact we in the restorative justice movement want to see or that we can imagine emanating from the movement in the next decade? NACRJ is glad to make this newly released, 50-page report (the Restorative Justice Listening Project) available to both its members and to the general public. Click here to download a 1-page summary about this report.