The Restorative Strategies program gives all parties a mechanism to interact peacefully and through dialogue to solve conflict. The approach focuses on accountability, reparation, reconciliation and, ultimately, reintegration, helping youth become productive citizens and setting them on a path to future success.
Case study: Renee, age 12, was charged with an assault on a teacher during a physical confrontation in her school. Renee, her mother and her grandmother were given the option to go through the court process, which includes punishment and probation, or become involved with the restorative strategy (RS) process. Renee agreed to accept responsibility for her crime and behavior and begin the RS program.
- Pre-conference meeting: This meeting is designed to prepare the person who committed the harm and their family for the “Conference Circle” which takes place within ten days of the crime. With guidance from a trained RS facilitator, Renee and her family were able to understand the significance of the crime and the harm that was done to the victims. Renee learned that during the Conference Circle, all the people that were harmed by the crime would be able to tell her how the crime affected them and suggest ways they felt she could restore the harm and repair the relationships.
- Those who were harmed in this crime were also contacted and given a synopsis of the restorative process circle. They included the teacher who was assaulted, an assistant teacher, the school liaison police officer, the school principal, and a community advocate from the multi-cultural center. The RS facilitator provided detailed information in regard to the circle, the questions that would be asked and what their role would be in providing suggestions for Renee to repair the harm.
- Conference Circle: On the day of the circle all parties have a voice and are able to address the harm that was done to them and provide an appropriate “agreement” to restore relationships and complete the process. During the process of repairing the harm Renee became emotional and began to cry. She recognized the impact of those she harmed. Those who were harmed made specific suggestions for Renee to repair the harm committed. In the agreement it was decided that Renee would spend time with the kindergarten class at the end of every school day making sure they got to their bus assignments safely. She also agreed to design and complete a bulletin board in the school that had to do with kindness, dignity and respect. Finally, Renee gave a sincere apology to everyone around the circle. At the end of the conference circle Renee went up to her teacher and asked if she could give her a hug. Through this sincere gesture of forgiveness and embrace it was clear the impact of the circle was accomplished. Renee completed her agreements and her offense was dropped from her juvenile record.