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Performing restorative justice in a college community: Integrating Navajo peacemaking with an accountability conference model.

Bledsoe, William
June 4, 2015

Source: (2009) Dissertation. Doctor of Philosophy. University of Colorado.

This study analyzed the use of aspects of Navajo peacemaking typically absent in
Western models of restorative justice that were incorporated in the development and
implementation of a hybrid accountability conference model of restorative justice for
the University of Colorado at Boulder between 2004 and 2006. The purpose of the
study was to determine the effectiveness of the applied aspects of peacemaking and to
interpret the function of personal narrative in the performance of the applied aspects
of peacemaking as a facilitated group process. Data for the study were collected from
student misdemeanor cases referred to the university’s restorative justice program
over that time period and consisted of conference interaction, police reports, and
program documents. The case studies presented suggest that the incorporated
methods of Navajo peacemaking were effective in (a) allowing the facilitator to cross
methodological boundaries of neutrality, (b) recognizing and addressing offenders’
personal issues during conferences, (c) representing victims’ stories of personal harm,
and (d) highlighting the community’s standards of moral conduct. The findings, thus,
confirm that key components of Navajo peacemaking are particularly appropriate for
a university restorative justice program, compelling theorists and practitioners of
restorative justice to reinvest in its tribal roots. The findings also showed that
restoration, as a rhetorical concept, foregrounds the performative nature and function of storytelling in a facilitated group process, as well as reveals the performative
nature of conducting first-person communication activism research.


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