What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused or revealed by disruptive behaviors. It is best accomplished through cooperative processes that include all harmed parties. In bias incidents (and other cases where deemed fit), we will use restorative justice as a form of adjudication.
The purpose is restorative justice is to:
- Identify and take steps to repair harm,
- Involve all harmed parties, and
- Place emphasis on community.
The two forms of restorative justice that we will use include:
- Conferencing – involves the harmed party/victim and respondent/offender in an extended conversation about the incident and its consequences. However, Conferencing programs also include the participation of families, community members, police or DPS, employees, witnesses, and friends in addition to the victim and offender.
- Circles – can involve all of the people listed above, however, this approach is really about making peace. A “talking piece” is used to ensure that people are silent unless they have the “talking piece”. The Circle model encourages listening, and for the offender to really get in touch with the feelings of the group and how others were impacted by their actions. This model is great for residence hall community, athletic teams, fraternities and sororities, and other groups that spend a great deal of time together.
Our goal and the foundation of restorative justice are:
- To work with students to help them understand how their behavior impacted the community
- To repair relationships
- Help reduce our repeat offender numbers
- Foster dialogue between students
- Hold students accountable
- Empower members of the community.
Justice requires that we work to restore those who have been harmed. Those most directly involved and affected by an incident should have the opportunity to participate fully in the restorative justice process so that their voice is heard.