Restorative Justice Initiative
The Mediation Center’s Restorative Justice Initiative offers conflict resolution and training services to businesses, community agencies, neighbors, families, students, teachers and staff. Restorative justice can provide parties with effective ways to prevent and respond to social, cultural and environmental conflict. Services are tailored to the specific incident and the needs of the individuals.
Restorative justice offers a relational approach to conflict incidents. Individuals and community members impacted by a conflict can come together to mutually understand the incident and discuss ways to move forward. This approach provides a transformative collective experience to healing through connection and understanding.
In educational settings, restorative justice provides opportunities for students to share their feelings, build relationships and solve problems. Restorative justice dialogue helps people shift from feeling misunderstood, unheard and unsafe to feeling heard, understood and in their own right. It helps people come together, express their concerns and discuss ways to move forward.
The fundamental principles of restorative justice are that:
- Conflict affects the entire community, and all stakeholders should have the opportunity to take part in addressing it constructively
- Focus should be on repairing relationships; and
- Different parties may satisfy different needs through the process:
- People who are impacted may find relief from pain, anger or fear;
- They may also learn that responsibility and accountability bring peace of mind and restore trust and membership within a group; and
- Communities may be strengthened as members are reintegrated into relationships characterized by respect, responsibility, reciprocity and equality
Restorative practices include the use of formal and informal processes that proactively build relationships and a sense of community to prevent conflict and provocation. The Mediation Center provides two types of restorative processes:
Restorative Circles primarily focus on communication, accountability, character development, reinforcement of shared values, in addition to issues of diversity and differences. Where there is disagreement about fundamental values or codes of conduct, circles can identify differences within a group and collectively develop representative, consensual cultural paradigms.
The Mediation Center also offers a variety of themed circles on such topics as race, gender and identity, and can tailor circles to particular situations and group dynamics.
Community Conferences are organized in response to conflict incidents. Conferences involve an extended intake process with all impacted individuals and a follow-up process with all participants. The Mediation Center is responsible for these processes, as well as anything else pertaining to the organization, coordination and facilitation of the conference process.
For more information contact Claudia Abbott-Barish
Restorative Justice Coordinator
Programs are funded in part by the County of Dutchess.