©2020 by Neighborhood Reconciliation Services, Inc. 

 

WHAT IS A RESTORATIVE JUSTICE CONFERENCE? 

When a harming incident such as assault, bullying, theft or harassment occurs, the effects can be felt by many. Those harmed, the victims, usually have no voice or input regarding how the incident is handled. They can be left with feelings of fear, anger or helplessness.

 

Those responsible, the offenders, often did not intend or anticipate the extent of the harm. They can be left with feelings of remorse or guilt, with no way to repair the harm they caused. Restorative justice conferences provide a safe, structured forum where victims, offenders and community members can address the impact of the incident. The goal is not to penalize, but to restore.

When and How Can a Conference Be Held?

A conference can only be held when the offender accepts responsibility for his or her actions and all parties agree to communicate with each other. Only a trained facilitator, neutral to the incident at hand, can conduct the conference.

Who Gets to Participate?

Those harmed, the victims, usually have no voice or input regarding how the incident is handled. They can be left with feelings of fear, anger or helplessness. Those responsible, the offenders, often did not intend or anticipate the extent of the harm. They can be left with feelings of remorse or guilt, with no way to repair the harm they caused. The victims and offenders are often not the only people involved in these negative situations; family, friends and members of the community are affected as well, and the healing process is not complete without their participation. All of these parties can participate in a conference.

Components:

  • Offenders describe the incident and take responsibility

  • Victims tell their stories about the influence of the harm caused by the offender

  • Other participants express how the event has affected them

  • All participants discuss how the offender can repair the harm done

Outcomes:

  • All participants create an agreement that states what the offender must do to begin healing the harm

  • The agreement must be fulfilled to completion

  • The victim now has a voice and the offender is held accountable, allowing all parties to grow from the experience

Is a Conference Right for Me?

Normally, a judge will determine if a restorative justice conference is the appropriate solution for your situation. If you are not in court but are experiencing conflict, you can contact us for more information.