My colleague responded, "That is such a core truth and often forgotten especially in the criminal justice system with its judgments."

In the exchange, I began thinking of how we can lose sight of this hope and possibility of change even in restorative programmes:

  • A focus on offender accountability can lead us to stress the wrong done in a way that judges and discourages offenders.
  • Case processing and the demands of criminal justice agencies can redirect attention from people and their needs to technical requirements of compliance. 
  • A desire to bring parties together to experience the powerful healing that can take place in a restorative process may lead us coerce participation or even mislead participants in our communications.
  • The reality of those we serve may mean missed appointments and antagonistic behaviour that can feel disrespectful and even harmful. If we are not careful, our frustrated response will send a message of hopelessness.

As I told my colleague, we need reminders to help us centre on hope and the possibility of change. What are some ways you maintain a focus on restorativeness? How can we communicate this message of hope in all our interactions with clients? What other possible pitfalls exist?