Even before the semester-long course was over, Bacon was applying restorative justice principles and techniques to cases referred to JMUâ€™s Office of Judicial Affairs, which he directs. In the last 18 months, Bacon has offered students the option of participating voluntarily in “restorative justice circles” about 20 times. All concernedâ€”the errant student, the people harmed by the studentâ€™s actions, community members affected by the incident, such as campus police or residence hall membersâ€”have found it to be an overwhelmingly positive experience, says Bacon.
Bacon’s fresh but effective approach to discipline caught the attention of colleagues at JMU. As a result, 20 JMU officials joined 50 administrators from 11 other universities at a March 15 symposium offered by the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at EMU. About half this group returned to EMU for the next three full days to undergo intensive training. The leaders of these trainings offered multiple examples from their universities of handling destructively drunken students, vandalism, plagiarism, theft, assault, interpersonal conflict and noise issues through circles and other restorative justice processes. Baconâ€™s preferred processâ€”a restorative justice circleâ€”is not complicated, though it does require a trained facilitator, preferably with a gift for handling sensitive interactions.
Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.Donate Now