…The weekâ€™s activities were organized by Restorative Rochester, a
voluntary association of organizations and individuals, through the M.K.
Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at the University of Rochester.
Barter has been sharing his concepts and training groups on how to
implement his systemâ€™s style which, like restorative justice, focuses on
the bigger picture of all who are harmed by offenders, whether in a
classroom fight or neighborhood gang violence.
A native of London, he learned firsthand about violence while living
in Brazil, where Rio de Janeiroâ€™s shanty towns were plagued by drug
gangs. Instead of fearing the violence, he said he sought to understand
why it was happening. He went into the towns and listened to what their
residents had to say, gained the trust of children who introduced him to
their older siblings, and continued building on the relationships he
Barter said he felt privileged that the residents not only started to
trust him, but also began to confide in him their own fears about what
was happening around them.
â€œBeing afraid and not listening yourself and avoiding conflict,
thatâ€™s whatâ€™s dangerous,â€ he said. â€œThe conflict has to speak louder to
get your attention. The way to raise the volume is to violate others.â€
…Kit Miller, director of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence,
based at the University of Rochester, sees restorative justice as a
means to bring greater peace to the Rochester community. She is one of a
group of supporters who founded Restorative Rochester in February.
Miller, who has been involved with nonviolent organizations in
various capacities for more than 15 years, said almost 100 percent of
the violent offenders she encounters through her service started out in
the criminal justice system as a youth. A community goal should be to
reach youths at their first encounters with the system, and lead them
down a different path.
â€œRestorative justice is a community-based response when harm or
violence occurs,â€ she said. â€œWhen we see people as a whole person, we
donâ€™t want to throw them away.â€
She said the circumstances that lead people to violence also should
be considered. Restorative Rochesterâ€™s plan is to work in schools,
neighborhoods and courts to change the criminal justice process from the
â€œI ask people what would it be like to live in a community where
something really different happened when people get into trouble,â€
Miller said. â€œA bunch of people have said, â€˜I donâ€™t know, but Iâ€™d like
to see what would happen.â€™â€
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