Submitted by KGreen
Conflict between people is like cancer: sometimes, if you just cut out the cause of the problem, that takes care of it completely, but oftentimes, once it’s caused enough trouble for you to catch it, it has already spread to infect different areas that you didn’t even imagine could be connected. The problem in America is that we use the justice system to handle our conflicts, but it’s really only equipped to treat the symptoms of our problems. Cash relief for broken contracts and jail time for criminals can sometimes be enough to right the wrongs that people have experienced, but more often than not, the harm goes much deeper than any judge’s verdict can reach. When there has been a tear in the fabric of a family or a community, it can take radioactive treatment to solve the problem. This is where restorative justice comes in. Just like chemotherapy, it is a painful process that requires exposure to extreme vulnerability, but once it’s over, the potential for healing and full recovery makes the entire ordeal worth it.
What is Restorative Justice?
The main philosophy behind restorative justice is to offer people in conflict an opportunity to speak candidly with one another, to ask questions, and to work together to create a solution that will rebuild the community. It puts faces to the people involved and offers context to all parties that can inform the way they resolve the problem and behave in the future. By engaging in restorative justice, people say to each other, “I see you.” They offer one another the opportunity to be heard, thereby creating an environment where every person’s input is valued.