What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative justice is an evidence-based practice effectively used to reduce suspensions, expulsions, and disciplinary referrals. Restorative justice focuses on righting a wrong committed and repairing harm done. The goal is to place value on relationships and focus on repairing relationships that have been injured. The victim and the wrongdoer have the opportunity to share with one another how they were harmed, as victims, or how they will work to resolve the harm caused, as wrongdoers.
The Origins of Restorative Justice
Restorative Justice or “Circles” are based on indigenous practices and philosophy. In the 1990’s members of The Hollow Water First Nations and Carcross-Tagish and Dahka T’lingit First Nations in Canada began teaching the Circle practice to non-Native people. They chose to do this because First Nation communities were seeking alternatives to the mass incarceration of their people, which was- and remains- another form of genocide. Returning to Native ways to resolve conflicts and harms required collaboration with non-Native people: lawyers, prosecutors, judges, as well as non-Native neighbors. In the process, non-Native people experienced the Circle process and its power to bring positive transformation for everyone involved. From these origins, the use of Circles among non-Natives has grown.
The Circle process that many non-Native people are using today is rooted in the tradition of talking Circles that The Hollow Water First Nations and Carcross-Tagish and Dahka T’lingit First Nations in North America use and have used for millennia. In these traditions, Circles are far more than a technique; they are a way of life. Circles embody a philosophy, principles, and values that apply whether people are sitting in Circle or not. We are deeply indebted to those who have carried these traditions into modern times.
Source: The Indigenous Origins of Circles and How Non-Natives Learned About Them
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