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Talking cure: Community Conferencing Center uses restorative justice techniques to deal with crime in Baltimore

June 6, 2009

From the Baltimore City Paper article by Erin Sullivan: Sometimes it can get a little tense. But that’s part of what makes
community conferencing so useful and successful, according to Abramson.
In a world where people are encouraged to bottle up their feelings, she
says, the need to express emotion is squashed. In a community
conference, people have the opportunity to express their emotions and
talk about them openly in a safe and productive environment.

human beings, it’s important for us to do this,” Abramson says, citing
the work of personality theorist and psychologist Silvan Tomkins, who
asserted that human beings are biologically motivated by emotion.
“Conflict is about being angry or disgusted by each other, or being
afraid of each other. They’re negative emotions, but they’re not good
or bad. They are just part of our biology.

“I think what
conferencing does is it gives people a chance to give voice to it. I
worked in behavioral medicine with people who were putting a lid on
emotions all the time and ending up with job problems and intestinal
problems and blood-pressure problems. You name it. It’s because we are
not paying attention to our biology. What I think conferencing really
does on a biological level is to allow people to give voice to what
they are experiencing and understand each other a little better and
allow those negative emotions to shift into something better.”

Read the whole article.


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