From John Malkin's article in Good Times:
Downtown Santa Cruz, a high school student takes clothes from a store without paying and is caught in the act. Instead of going to jail, she agrees to meet with a store manager to discuss the act and mutually agree on what to do next.
An elementary school garden is destroyed by teenagers. During a restorative dialogue, the teenagers sob with sadness, realizing the affect they’ve had on the younger kids who put so much energy into growing their garden.
A math teacher’s car is broken into by a young man. They agree to discuss the event in a restorative meeting. The two come to understand each other’s perspective, forgiveness arises and the teacher ends up offering to help tutor the youth in math.
During a downtown May Day celebration, windows of 18 businesses are smashed. A sharing circle offers people the chance to discuss how they were affected by the property destruction, and to discover possible ways of building community.
These are examples of a growing trend in responding to harmful actions and building trust between individuals and communities called Restorative Justice. Restorative Justice (RJ) is a philosophy that incorporates a diversity of tools to restore safety and connection through voluntary dialogue and mutual agreement. Often these meetings lead to transformational changes in people’s lives.