July 20, 2020
Restorative Justice is a movement and project that has many prongs on its fork.
First, a crime is committed against a person or property. The alleged perpetrator is arrested and charged with the DA defined crimes. There are three outcomes.
1. Charges are dropped due to lack of evidence (but the arrest is on the person’s record).
2. Alleged perpetrator takes a plea negotiation, admitting guilt to some degree, and serves his/her time in custody.
3. A jury trial can result in a guilty, not guilty, or charged with lesser crimes.
Second, with any of the three outcomes listed above, a mediator and advocates for the offender and the victims, are appointed. Their first interest is to reconcile the community in which the alleged crime was committed and the offender.
Third, the District Attorney and presiding judge MUST buy in to the “sentence” of restorative justice. This a practiced advocate within the judicial system to assure that all legal parties agree.
Fourth, the offender, victims, DA’s office advocate, and community must meet in a neutral location to establish trust and truthfulness. A fair and courteous dialogue must occur between the four entities. The advocates and mediator are there to ensure this.
Finally, in a consensus, the group can determine what the offender can actively do to demonstrate repentance, reparations, and respect for all who were affected. If this is done, then the offender does not face jail time, victim/community shunning, or a record of conviction (expungement). In fact, the offender becomes a valued member of the community and receives forgiveness from the victim(s).
This is true rehabilitation and reintegration. The community might receive grants to support the offender’s housing and human needs.
This is dignity without borders.