700 delegates from over 40 countries “energized, encouraged and inspired”

RJ World 2020 brought together people from restorative justice and restorative practice initiatives from across the world. Presenters recorded interviews and share them to the eConference website to be viewed throughout the duration of the conference. Delegates interacted via Zoom and text.

The 700 delegates have spoken of being re-inspired, challenged, amazed and energised. Here are some of the reflections that have come in.

Thank you so much for an amazing event! 

Joakim Hope Soltveit, Norway

The theme that stood out for me through the conference was that restorative work is an expansive continuum.  The RJ World 2020 Conference beautifully brought out the multipronged potency of restorative work.  The continuum  begins with how we relate to ourselves, extends to our relationships, and to transforming systems.

Arti Mohan, India

The format was fantastic – I’m in Australia so a very different time zone to most. I really appreciated the opportunity to engage with so much of the content without having to get up in the middle of the night.

Lucy Evans, Australia

Thank you so much for this incredible offering.  I feel affirmed, energized, encouraged and inspired.  RJ around the world is happening, yahoo!

Laura Dafoe

The quality and variety of speakers was sensational .  I also appreciated that I could leave feedback on a presenter’s wall and read the feedback of others. The Chat Wall was almost like the chat over a cuppa at the break at a conference where important reflection time, sharing – and connecting with others occurs. It has been an amazing 10 days and my head is swirling with ideas but almost as important my soul has been fed. 

Jane Langley

An amazing eConference, with a great variety of speakers. It was a most enriching experience 

Upneet Lalli, India

Read Arti Mohan’s review of RJWorld 2020 “Reflecting on the Continuum” at the EFRJ blog

This was a space for people in different parts of the world to connect with restorative practitioners and academics of all levels of experience, including many people whose work I have deeply admired but never got a chance to engage with before.” 

Read Full Article

“Despite being a virtual event, the conference created space for dialogue and connection through the comments section and the live sessions.  The virtual nature of the event may have rendered it more accessible owing to the reduced investments needed by participants in terms of travel, finances, and time.  Participants could engage with captivating  speakers from the comfort and safety of their own homes/offices.”


It brought together world experts on a topic that really needs more air time within the general public. I think if these experts from different countries can unite to share information and work together constructively, it is much more powerful and in effect would help spread the word on RJ more rapidly throughout the globe.

Ailbhe Griffith

I think this has changed the face of international and probably national conferences!

Marg Thorsborne

Brilliant inspirational content. Spent the week fitting my life around all the powerful speakers. So much to take away.

Pamela Dillon

RJ world is a global RJ village, with a compendium of knowledge. It should be an annual event.

Professor Don John Omale

It was an amazing experience!

Dr Sandra Pavelka

I can’t say enough to express how well organized and truly informative I found this conference. I watched every presentation…  a widespread topic base, professionally presented, informative beyond any conference I’ve ever attended… Thank you for organizing it, I can’t believe how rejuvenated I feel and how much I’m taking away from this event.

Kristine Atkinson

I have learnt so much, my understanding and practice has definitely developed exponentially as a result. It was an amazing and very impactful experience, thank you!

Molly Macleod

I really like the variety this type of format. It gives so many voices the opportunity the be heard. 

Mark Rutledge

It was wonderful to have so many presenters in RJ world and because it was virtual it had it’s own advantage. 

Urvashi Tilak

I made wonderful connections with other speakers and met two people… that I have since Zoomed with so I am thrilled to have met new colleagues. I would love to do it all again. Thanks so much!

Leaf Seligman, Canada

RJ World would like to thank the many co-sponsors who made this groundbreaking event possible.

Co-sponsors 

Teaching and learning after Covid

If you, like me, are struggling to imagine how teaching after the pandemic will look and feel like for both students and staff, you shall not be disappointed by this year’s RJ WORLD conference. No worries- many international speakers are there to give us some support and guidance in our pondering about the “new normal”…

Mark Goodwin, from the UK, will tell us how to reconnect after this experience, the mindset teachers need, and the learning kids can do. And more importantly, the relationships that need to be built (spoiler: restorative relationships). He will equip us with practical tools that “anybody working with young people can take away and use.”

Dr Belinda Hopkins, an author from the UK, will explain how a Whole School Approach can ease the anxiety of “returning to strange new environments facing guidelines that keep people at a distance, hidden behind masks, unable to socialise.” Together with Monika Alberti, she will present a package of resources designed by UK restorative practitioners to support the mental and emotional health of the whole school community at this time of crisis.

Laura Mooiman’s presentation will also be of interest for you. Especially if you are aware that the current pandemic is not the only crises that needed, needs or will need our response. Laura is interested in creating a positive school culture that can face “(…) crises including earthquake, multiple student suicides, Napa wildfires, and student protests.” For her, the PBIS model is the answer, but more of that in her talk…!

– Excited? Secure your tickets NOW here: RJ WORLD 2020 CONFERENCE TICKETS

And also, check out our other posts about the topic “RESTORATIVE SCHOOLING”:
Culture change starts in schools: Meet the international changemakers behind the movement
Restorative Practice in Schools- For, or beyond behaviour management?
The disputed concept of (school-) culture

Restorative circles: Of care, vulnerability and radical kindness

Reflections from RJ World 2020 speaker Arti Mohan

At the start of the COVID 19 pandemic, there were clarion calls to fight the war and conquer it. The language of war compels us to fight by putting aside our vulnerabilities. Perhaps, the pandemic need not be seen as war, a call to battle, or even a fight. Maybe, we can move through this difficult time by exhibiting courage of a different kind- the courage that comes from being vulnerable and with showing care and radical kindness.

We need spaces where we can care, where we can express our pain and our struggles and where we can be heard. Restorative circles are one such space.

These circles are a space to speak and listen to one another in an atmosphere of safety and respect. One or two circle facilitators or circle keepers facilitate the process. They ask questions that guide the discussion, but apart from that, participate in equal ways as others in the circle.

The circle offers everyone an opportunity to speak sequentially. While one person is speaking, others offer them the gift of listening without interrupting. Participating in, and sharing in the circle, is always optional, and every participant has the option to engage with the circle process to the extent they’re comfortable.   In most circles, we co-create values for ourselves such as confidentiality, respect, listening, no advice etc.

Questions asked during circles are open-ended and related to the purpose and the need of the circle.

Circles can be used in a wide variety of contexts and to address a wide range of needs. I’ve held circles in different spaces – custodial homes for children, protective shelter home for children, for staff of shelter homes, for frontline workers counselling children, during capacity building trainings, while teaching restorative justice in a law university, for my team at my workplace, and for friends and community.

A key element of all restorative circles is creating a safe, non-judgmental place for connection and dialogue. Circles are based on the principle that talking about challenging experiences helps reduce their adverse impact, and the emotional connection with others promotes wellbeing.

Feeling and acknowledging our emotions

Restorative circles create space to reflect on and experience our emotions. Often, in our daily lives, we may not find spaces or the time to think through how we’re feeling. A frontline worker said that circles are unique in allowing people to talk about one’s thoughts and feelings. Another circle participant said that in the circle as they share, they find words for abstract concepts.

“We need to find spaces to feel hurt rather than to spread hurt” – Brene Brown

Circles allow us to feel our emotions, and to tell ourselves that these emotions are valid even if others may be struggling much more than us. The pandemic impacted everyone in varying ways. It brought forth the existing social marginalization and intensified it. In light of the brutal impact on those impacted the worst, many adults in community circles said that they felt guilty allowing themselves to feel their emotions.

By asking specific questions that allow us to talk about our own emotions, despite all that may be going on around us, circles remind us that while we acknowledge other people’s pain, we are entitled to our feelings.

Talking about the unspoken

Circles create a space to share experiences and enable us to talk about the things that we may have wanted to bury and leave unspoken. Kazu Haga, in Healing Resistance, talks about how the strongest act of courage is often vulnerability; it is talking about the things that we are most ashamed about, the things that we feel the most vulnerable about. When we deny our stories, hide from them or pretend they don’t exist, they begin to define us. The pain begins to impact us and others around us. And by talking about the unspoken, it reduces its power over us.

Urvashi Tilak, Restorative Justice Director at Counsel to Secure Justice (CSJ), reflects on circles with a group of women and says that, “It was a safe space for them to talk about their past, their childhood, things they had never spoken about earlier, shared with people they barely knew before the circle. Such was the power of the circle.”

“With skinned knees and bruised hearts; We choose owning our stories of struggle, Over hiding, over hustling, over pretending. When we deny our stories, they define us. So, we turn toward truth and look it in the eye.” Brene Brown

Children in custodial settings have found space to acknowledge their actions for the first time in circle with each other. In a reintegration circle with his family, a child admitted what he’d done to his family without offering any defence, something he hadn’t ever thought he’d do.

In the friends and community circles, adults have often spoken about their deepest fears and about behaviours/personality traits they perceive as their biggest flaws. Circles create space to talk about things that we’ve otherwise chosen to leave unspoken.

“Courage showed me how to open up and talk about the things I’m most ashamed of, being vulnerable. Speaking about true emotions, being vulnerable and showing all of who we are is what takes the most courage.” Kazu Haga, Healing Resistance

Often during circles, children in custodial settings, step away from the strong impenetrable image they’ve created for themselves and share vulnerably about their feelings, including the remorse they feel about their actions. Children in custodial settings have found space in circles to talk about their deepest fears, including being rejected by society and of being stigmatized for life.

Adults have spoken about the fear of losing their loved ones to the pandemic in the frontline worker and community circles. In a community circle where most people were strangers, people spoke about their difficulties with their intimate relationships.

By speaking about our vulnerabilities and what shames us the most, we break down its power over us and work towards our own journey of healing.

The magic of listening

“The experience has been undoubtedly beautiful for me. I never realized how powerful and effective a listening circle could be.” Shivangini, CSJ

Another element at play in circles, apart from the safe space to share, is the gift of listening. Listening is powerful and can help to reduce the intensity of our emotions. Often after people share deeply in circle, they later talk about how much calmer they feel. A frontline worker said that after the circle they felt as if a heavy balloon inside them had burst in the circle, and they felt much lighter after. Another participant in a community circle spoke about her severe emotional distress during the circle and later said that she felt a sense of calm after.

For the listeners as well, listening is an act of kindness towards others which, in turn, is a healing action for oneself. Shivangini Singh, Social Worker at CSJ talks about her experience of holding circles and how “listening to what others have to share has also been so wonderful because you realise how similar our experiences have been somewhere despite different contexts.”

Over the years, facilitating circles helps me feel a deep sense of belonging and connection as I realize that no matter how unique my troubles are, we are all human and all have our struggles, which our often similar. Shivangini puts it beautifully when she says holding and being in circle brings such a marvellous sense of community and I completely rejoice in the space”.

Building belonging and connection

“In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen. Really seen. It involves a choice to be vulnerable. To brave judgment and rejection. To overcome shame in a world that teaches us we must somehow be fixed.” Brene Brown

By creating spaces for vulnerability, circles also foster a space for building and deepening connection. At my organization, CSJ, I’ve held circles for the team around different themes, including those specific to listening and connecting. Often, when someone new joins, we invite everyone to share our stories of what brought us to the work we do. After one of our office circles during the pandemic, Prerna Barua, a colleague who recently joined the team virtually, said that the circle helped her feel a sense of connection with the team she’d never met in person.

Circles give us space to come together despite our varying identities and to be seen as our real selves. Urvashi reflects on facilitating circles with women from different social identities and how she initially wondered whether they would share in circle. Within a month, they began to take collective ownership for the circle process, reminding each other to uphold the collective values and guidelines, and began sharing from a place of vulnerability.

When physical distancing began, circles had to adapt to the virtual realm. Initially, I was sceptical about holding virtual circles owing to the lack of physical proximity. Over time, with training from some beautiful mentors (Dr. Frida Rundell and Molly Rowan) and many circles later, I believe that circles can be as magical over Zoom as in real life.

A frontline worker who regularly comes to circles said that during this period circles may be all the more important, “Circles help remind us that we are mentally connected despite the massive physical distance amongst us.” The virtual format has helped us to invite people from all across the country to circle together.

When the lockdown began, I started inviting my friends to virtual circles as I noticed that a lot of them were going through significant difficulties adapting to the pandemic. In a time of uncertainty, these were beautiful spaces of togetherness. I started putting out flyers and soon I had people I’d never met coming to these circles.

These circles have helped create new connections. Akash, a regular participant in these circles, says that, “Through this listening circle, I was able to meet, understand and listen to people who I wouldn’t have met otherwise.” Often, people connect with each other after the circle, creating new bonds and connections.

Creating a container for multiple emotions

Circles can be beautiful containers for a wide variety of emotions. While some circles focus on deep intimate sharing, they also create space for joy, humour, laughter and fun. Often, we’ve played games and coloured while in circle, especially with children. In our circles at CSJ as well, while we’ve had deep sharing, we’ve also intertwined it with humorous prompts and games. Kshipra Marathe, Restorative Justice Counsellor at CSJ says that, “Facilitating and being in circles with children has taught me the beauty of openness and flexibility and the safe space it creates for everyone.  I love how when we go with the flow of the circle, sometimes we play and have fun and other times we have such deep powerful conversations.” Urvashi talks about holding circles with women in the community and how deep circles are often interweaved with moments of lightness and laughter: “I miss those beautiful memories- moments of fun and laughter, sharing joy and tears.” Circles allow us to bring our whole, authentic selves to circle, and all of the aspects that we want to.

Self-care and healing in circle

Circles can be a space for us to focus inwards, to care for ourselves and to be compassionate to ourselves. Frontline workers and caregivers often talk about how they don’t find spaces which allow them to focus on themselves. Many of them have said they feel grateful that for the first time someone asked them how they’re feeling. A frontline worker said that the circle reminds them to think about themselves and to prioritize ourselves.

After a circle at a team retreat (by the beach), Urvashi spoke about how it gave her space to reflect on some very challenging times for her, Sitting there in the circle, overseeing the ocean, it felt good to express- to share with everyone what my family and I went through emotionally. It helped so much to process things better and to accept that our lives had changed.” At the end of this circle, for the closing I invited everyone to write out our worries on seashells and then float them out into sea.

Sharing in circles can also help us to be self-compassionate as we are invited to offer ourselves the same compassion we give others when we share. Vedika, a participant in the community circles, said that, “when I voiced the ideas in my head, I was not self-bashing, I spoke about myself with the compassion and understanding I always afford to everyone around me. That was very special.”

Nikita Kataria, also working on the restorative justice team at CSJ says that being in circle, feeling safe and heard are powerful and have helped become more restorative in her personal life as well. For me as well, being in circle nurtures me to act in consonance with my values within circle, but also outside.

Multiple truths

“Truth and perspective are not a zero sum game. My truth does not negate yours, even if our truths don’t match up.” Kazu Haga

Restorative spaces create spaces for multiple truths and do away with the need to have one argument win over the other. While teaching restorative justice to final year law students, Jonathan Derby (founder of CSJ) and I held circles for discussing the course content. Circles created space for discussion which gave everyone a voice, enabled students to have differing opinions which could all be valid at the same time.

Owing to India’s socio-political situation and treatment of those who are marginalized, many people who came to the community circles during the pandemic where extremely disturbed by the government’s (in)actions. There are often government officials in the same circle who believe that the state is doing the best it could, given the circumstances. ‘Generosity of opinion’ is a value that participants have brought to many circles, a value which has enabled people to talk about their differing viewpoints and perspectives, while respecting each other and their lived reality. Circles may be unique in how they root out the need to have one truth win over the other.

Finding hope

Restorative spaces are also beautiful as they enable us to find hope and meaning. A frontline worker who participated in circles regularly said that, “When we share feelings, we see things in perspective. When we hear others’ problems and how they cope, it’s a reminder that so can we. This gives me hope and helps me to let go of things.”

Tragic optimism can be a helpful coping tool: acknowledging that we can experience intensely negative reactions to the strange times, that we can experience stress and trauma, and at the same time we can seek out glimmers of light in the darkest of nights.

Often, in sharing circles we use questions that help people think through their coping tools and feel a sense of wellness, such as, “What are three things you are grateful for in this moment?”, “What is the one thing you look forward to that helps you feel calm/joyful?”

The circles during the pandemic were a way of responding to uncertainty and finding hope. Akash, a frequent participant said that, “Through some very uncertain times, with no end in sight, these circles managed to pull people from different walks of life together, to share their stories on a platform with no judgment towards the people who shared their stories. It helped me to regain hope and look at the positives of life with renewed vigor.” People have spoken about feeling “a new energy”, a sense of hope, calm, warmth, and feeling light after being in circle.

We are more than the worst things we’ve done

Restorative spaces also allow us to remind ourselves that we are all more than the worst things we do or the worst things that happen to us. Dr. Alissa Ackerman, a restorative justice and gender-based harm expert, used the analogy of driftwood to talk about our duality as human beings. We can harm someone and still be a good human being, we still deserve our humanity. Circles remind us of this.

“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”

Bryan Stevenson

During a reintegration circle for a child in conflict with law and his family, the child, Ishan, acknowledged what he had done in front of his family. His family expressed shock, anger, disappointment and shame and strongly condemned his actions, while his father also said that one mistake ought not to define Ishan for the rest of his life. As we closed the circle by doing a final go-around on what we appreciated about Ishan. Circles create space to acknowledge some of our worst mistakes, while reiterating that we are much more than that, we are all beautiful human beings who have enormous potential to be whoever we want to be.

Spade work for social justice work

“We can’t change other people by our convictions, stories, advice, and proposals, but we can offer a space in ourselves where people are encouraged to disarm themselves, lay aside their occupations & preoccupations, & listen with attention and care to the voices speaking” Henri Nouwen

Circle spaces and the intertwined mindfulness go beyond the self since they teach us to listen to others, work on undoing our social conditioning and have difficult, uncomfortable conversations. In this regard, Nimisha Srivastava, Program Director, CSJ says that, “For me that has been the most powerful component of circles. Circles have pushed me very gently to recognise my privilege and how others have been impacted by not having what I have had”. And this is the spade work for doing social justice work of dismantling oppressive structures. Circles create space for us to examine and unpack power, privilege and oppression.

During circles with children in custodial settings in Rajasthan, we explored the experiences of social identity and discrimination within the circles. It allowed for creating space to talk about how social oppression impacts those already at the margins of society, and what others can do to start dismantling these oppressive structures. While the aim of circles is not to teach, preach or reprimand, by enabling honest discussion, including examining the impact on those effected, circle processes help build empathy, including in the context of systemic oppression and guide people towards undoing harmful actions. I hope and believe that we can use circles to slowly address systemic and oppressive structural harms.

Reflecting and hoping

Holding circles has been a beautiful journey for me. As I was training to be a circle keeper in law school, it was in circle that I felt I found my voice for the first time, and where I felt I really belonged. Circles give me a sense of connection and belonging. Holding circles and being a circle keeper is my way of bringing that to others around me.

Each circle is a rich experience, in all different contexts. I find it beautiful that a process as simple as a circle can be so powerful in so many different contexts: with people of different ages, social identities, and lived experiences.

As I’ve held more circles, the learning from circles have seeped into my life. Circles have guided me to focus on and value all my relationships. Through being in circle and holding circles, I’ve learned to develop the compassion that I seek to offer others for myself (on most days). Circles give me permission to be my authentic self, far from perfect, yet trying step by step to show courage through vulnerability and radical kindness.

In a world that’s hurting, we may not need armour and battles as much as we may need softness, care and vulnerability: as a way of coping with our difficult emotions; for dealing with pain, rejection, hurt, fear and uncertainty; to move beyond the worst things we’ve ever done; and to begin to address oppressive social structures, one act of vulnerability and care at a time.

Gratitude to all the beautiful people who taught me how to keep circles, to adapt them virtually, and who by being in circle with me as co-facilitators and participants enriched my practice. A special shout out to Prof. Martin Price, my first mentor on holding circles, who made me believe in the magic of circles.


Arti is the Restorative Justice Program Officer at Counsel to Secure Justice in New Delhi India. She has worked on designing and implementing a pilot restorative justice project for children in the legal system. Arti is also a lawyer and has earlier litigated for children who’ve been abused and worked with women in prison.

Speaker Spotlight: Dr Muhammad Asadullah – Decolonising Restorative Justice

One of a number of academics presenting at the RJ World 2020 conference is Dr Muhammad Asadullah who is currently Assistant Professor at University of Regina’s Department of Justice Studies where he teaches on such topics as Restorative and Community Justice, Mediation and Dispute Resolution, Criminology, and Criminal Justice. He holds both PhD and MA in Criminology from Simon Fraser University and an MA in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University. Some of the many awards and scholarships he has received include Neekaneewak Indigenous Leadership Awards, Contemplative Social Justice Scholar Award, ACJS Doctoral Fellowship Award, C.D. Nelson Memorial Award, Liz Elliott Memorial Graduate Scholarship, and a Law Foundation Scholarship in Restorative Justice. He is a board member of the Salish Sea Empathy Society and is on the Advisory Committee of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Restorative Justice. He has also served on the board of the Vancouver Association for Restorative Justice and the Communities Embracing Restorative Action. His research interests span such fascinating areas as decolonisation, restorative justice, conflict resolution, village courts, peacemaking criminology, indigenous justice and contemplative justice. Dr Asadullah is furthermore certified in Nonviolent Communication training and provides workshops on compassionate communication, self-empathy, and contemplative practice in community, prison, and academic spaces.

Decolonising Restorative Justice

The concept of “decolonisation” is not a new one and many professions, practices, and academic disciplines have had to reflect on their own practices and to what extent they press an ethnocentric approach onto diverse and differing cultures. The idea that indigenous cultures must be central in any successful practice is a view long held by anthropologists and “decolonisation” as a concept has been cause for reflexivity across the social sciences and in education, psychology, governance, justice, research methods, and indeed restorative justice. Monchalin (2016) describes decolonisation as triggering a fundamental shift in colonial structures, ideologies and discourses. “Decolonisation” in the most simple of senses describes the process of a coloniser withdrawing from a colony and leaving it independent and ideally mending harm caused by colonisation but decolonisation can be more complicated as every institution the coloniser leaves behind is shaped around a colonial ideal and reshaping it to suit the indigenous culture may be a challenging process.

Decolonisation in the postcolonial context has additional meaning where it refers to new or international ideas as they are introduced to different cultures. For example, a certain model of restorative justice may be infinitely successfully in Europe but that does not make it necessarily appropriate to introduce the exact same model somewhere else. The way or the context that an idea is introduced and how it is employed is also important. Are indigenous people embracing restorative justice for themselves and using it in their own way or is a large and distant agency or government imposing restorative justice upon them – maybe with the best of intentions – without allowing participants to shape the tool around their own needs? There is also the question of whether restorative practices can be employed in mending damage done by colonisation and aid in the complex postcolonial process.

An important paper

Dr Muhammad Asadullah kindly presents a most interesting paper which argues against “copying and pasting” Eurocentric models of Restorative Justice practices into differing cultural settings. He presents a study, grounded in the findings of RJ visionaries and practitioners in Bangladesh, which proposes a decolonising framework for RJ practices. The research paper Dr Asadullah presents recognises that in the context of restorative justice decolonisation entails “a) addressing historical harms of colonization; b) recognizing grievances of indigenous and marginalized communities about the justice system as genuine; and c) acknowledging that state- or INGO-funded RJ practices may do more harm than good.” Again, the idea that international or cross-cultural interventions which aim to improve people’s lives can inevitably do more harm than good is not a new idea and has been a contentious issue for international development scholars for many years as seen in James Ferguson’s (1994) The Anti-Politics Machine and in other scholarly works which seek to address this quandary. Dr Asadullah’s paper begins with a brief overview of decolonisation discourses from micro and macro perspectives to then locate decolonisation in justice settings. The decolonising framework which this paper offers restorative justice practices may prove of great importance as restorative practices and associated ideas are spreading among academic, justice, and other circles at an accelerated rate. There is no doubt that restorative justice is by now internationally pervasive and so it is crucially important that practitioners recognise that the Eurocentric model familiar to many of us is not suitable in all cultural settings without some reflection or indeed without decolonising that approach. It is also interesting to reflect on ways restorative practices may be employed in a positive way for decolonising purposes.

Ruairí Weiner has recently completed a BA in Anthropology and Criminology from Maynooth University. He is currently a Research Assistant at Maynooth University Department of Law and is pursuing an MSc in Applied Social Research at Trinity College Dublin. He is interested in organisational culture in criminal justice settings and how restorative practices can be applied to a variety of settings for community building and other purposes.

A gathering of the sages on Covid-19: Hear 3 of our most experienced practitioners address the current pandemic

Annegrete Johanson (Estonia)

Our wonderfully young but wise Annagrete comes to us from Estonia. She has worked with youth at risk in diferent fields and gave lectures in Universities for over 14 years. She now works as a service manager in Victim support and her responsibility is Restorative Justice and mediation. Annagrete also studied social work, social pedagogy and child care.

What will Annagret share with us in her presentation?

She will give us an overview of the challenges and sucessses of implementing Restorative Justice in Estonia in the last years. Next to finding a system of volunteers, the time of Covid-19 gave opportunity to develop Restorative Practice further. Especially, since we all were forced to think and look outside the box. Annagrete explains: “In Covid-19 time there were restorative discussion-circles online and after restrictions there were restorative discussion-circles in real life.” In her presentation, she will create a magical space dedicated to storytelling of people who took part in Restorative Practice initiatives.

Meanwhile, to get ready for her talk, you can check out a post which is part of the #SolidarityOverDistance series by the EFRJ (European Forum for Restorative Justice). The article with Annagrete is called “Discussion with Annagrete Johanson” – you’ll learn more about the influence of COVID-19 on Restorative Practice…

Mark Goodwin (UK)

Mark, our freelance teacher, trainer & coach has 20 years’ experience working across phases in a number of schools. He currently work in Alternative Provision with kids who are permanently excluded from school or at risk of exclusion, delivering a solutions focused coaching programme alongside key curriculum.

Moreover, he focusses on preventing kids being excluded by training staff in restorative and relational teaching approaches. He gracefully shared his Checklist focussing on“(…) how to go about building and maintaining effective relationships with young people to help them learn well.” Get free access to the checklist, which includes helpful tips, here: “The Cookie Jar Checklist“!

Also, he has published for “TES” (Times Educational Supplement) on the topic that’s in everyones minds at the moment… Yes, right: Coronavirus. More specifically: Teaching and Coronavirus. Or even better: “4 ways to re-integrate pupils who dislike school” during coronavirus.”

What will Mark share with us in his presentation?

His main topic will address the controversial and questioned matter of Coronavirus in context of education. Mark states: “Reconnecting with young people after Covid after recent events, there will be hundreds of kids who feel disconnected from school, learning and even themselves. This will most keenly be felt by those who are already disadvantaged and marginalised.”

Mark will draw on his deepened experience and expertise in reconnecting excluded kids to learning. He promises to present what is required in the coming weeks and months to support a successful reconnection, including:
– the mindset teachers need,
– the learning kids can do,
– the relationships that will be needed to be built.

He will share with us his approaches, which are based on:
– meeting the kids where they are,
– throwing a wide circle,
– “I see you”,
– “see the best part”, and
– “check Yourself”

He also let us know that his talk is “full of practical advice and approaches that anybody working with young people can take away and use.”

Dr Belinda Hopkins (UK)

“Transforming Conflict” logo. Taken from their Website: https://transformingconflict.org/

Please meet the fantastic lady who founded “Transforming Conflict“, a National Centre for Restorative Approaches in Youth and Community Settings, 25 years ago! The project “Transforming Conflict” turned out to meet an important social need, so that it now works with staff in children’s residential care, youth organisations and community care. Belinda is also a well-published author and restorative practitioner, trainer and consultant.

But that’s not all – Belinda pioneered the concept of a “whole-school restorative approach” across the UK in the early 2000’s! A true sage and visioner, she is. Moreover, she is on the EFRJ Values and Principles Working Party and is currently on their Training Committee.

What will Belinda share with us in her presentation?

Take a seat, and imagine this scenario…

“It is undeniable that schools worldwide, school communities are facing a ‘new normal’.
After months of isolation and frightening news bulletins we are soon to return to strange new environments facing guidelines that keep people at a distance, hidden behind masks, unable to socialise.
There is huge pressure to make up for lost time academically.
Schools may be tempted to become even more authoritarian to bring students back in line after months away from the routines and rhythms of their school community.

So what do we do in this case?

Belinda, together with Monica Alberti, will share a package of resources designed by UK restorative practitioners to support the mental and emotional health of the whole school community at this time of crisis. Before the talk, or during the talk – make sure you give this Website “www.restoreourschools.com” a visit! There, you learn more about “(…) How we plan for the return to the classrooms, playgrounds and corridors of schools.” You can also find help-full resources that support this journey.

Belinda was part of that original collective. Monica has been using the materials in Catalonia, working with the Catalan Department of Education to implement a restorative approach in schools not just as crisis intervention but for EVERY DAY.

So, sustainable, practical and informative take-away packages from these 3 speakers are guaranteed! See you there!

Joseph Lauren: Subject of documentary and RJ advocate

Joseph is the Program Director for the charity, called Restorative Justice Housing Ontario. He also was the first Canadian to receive a Federal Prison sentence for insider trading. From prison, he went to working for a new registered charity, with the goal to assist ex-offenders.

Joseph’s Episode in “Voices Inside Out”

Cover of the Podcast “Voices Inside and Out”

Joseph is the guest in John Howard’s podcast “Voices Inside and Out”. The aim of this podcast is to give a platform to those, who have experienced Canadas Criminal Justice System, so they can share their stories with the public. Joseph is the guest in a two-part episode.

The first part is titled, Joseph Lauren: Post-custody Housing Challenges and Solutions“. In this interview, Joseph unpacks, and dives deeper into the issues with finding proper housing for ex-offenders. But he does not shy back from these issues! He provides SOLUTIONS – that’s the part that we all need to hear, don’t we? And if you want to learn more of his experience, check out part 2, too. It’s called “Post-custody Employment Challenges and Solutions.

For a little appetiser of what awaits you in episode one, read here:

“After a high-profile conviction for insider trading, finding employment after custody was a challenge for Joseph Lauren. He was handicapped both by a criminal record and a significant presence on google searches. This led to a change of name, starting his own consulting company, and “Collared” a documentary about his crime. Joseph shares with us his journey to earn a living, experiences in prison, and advice for others on how to make it after prison.”

What will Joseph share with us in his presentation?

He will discuss what miraculous event in prison led him from “a life making millions a year as a former lawyer and inside trader to now working as the first Program Director of Restorative Justice Housing Ontario RJHO.ca“(Restorative Justice Housing Ontario).

Adult and child hands holding paper house, family home and homeless shelter concept. Picture taken from http://rjho.ca/.

The plan of RJHO.ca, as they explain on their website is, to…

(…) help people leaving prison become positive members of society by providing safe housing to those with no alternatives. We focus on people who could most benefit from such housing and who are motivated to change their lives. Our positive and supportive community of volunteers help ex‑offenders to transition back into everyday life, reducing the risk of re-offence and making our communities safer.”

In his workshop, Joseph will unapologetically name and talk about the struggle of trying to find safe housing that ex-offenders face. He will clearly outline the precarious position ex-imprisoners find themselves in, even as people that are fully committed to reform.

He will problematize the fact that these people cannot find housing on their own because of finances and discrimination tied to their criminal records – and that’s why support is desperately needed. Support, like from people like Joseph, and charities like RJHO.ca.

“Collared”

Joseph obviously turned his experience into something great, and use-full. On his Website: https://www.collaredconsulting.com/, he offers his skills in many diferent areas.

You can book him as:

  • Compliance-training speaker
  • Information Protection consultant
  • Keynote Ethics speaker and panelist
  • CLE / CPE ethics training consultant
  • Prison Preparation Consultant
  • White-Collar Crime consequences speaker
  • Expert on Insider Trading and its Prevention

And on his personal page you also get access to his successful BLOG, where you can read up more about his fascinating stories.

Aaaand also, while you’re there…. Check out the TRAILER to his EDUCATIONAL-DOCUMENTARY, CALLED “COLLARED”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FBhiaTPqDY
Trailer to Josephs film “Collared”

But what’s better than hearing the genius himself live at our RJ WORLD CONFERENCE? Plus, you even get the opportunity to interact with him, and ask him questions! So, we shall see you there! 🙂

Meet: CLAIR ALDINGTON, our artmaking restorative justice practitioner

Drawing from Clair’s sketchbooks

The magic of co-creation (making with others), design and gifting in situations of transition, harm and conflict…

Clair works as a creative practitioner alongside her profession as an accredited restorative justice practitioner. She is based in Scotland, where she combines her artmaking practice with her Restorative Justice work. From 2001-2007, she worked with Oxfordshire Youth Offending Service, England.

Space2face RJ Arts Oranisation

Currently, Clair channels her skills into the Restorative Arts Organisation, called Space2face in Shetland, Scotland. What is Space2face, you may ask? Well, I’m glad you ask:

Space2face logo

This is how they introduce themselves on their website:

“Space2face is a restorative justice arts charity and a confidential and independent service. We work with those who’ve been harmed (victims) by crime and conflict, those responsible for causing harm (offenders) through crime and conflict, as well as all others affected by what has happened – the families and communities linked to those primarily involved.”

In 2016, Space2face received a Restorative Practice UK Award for their creative approaches to restorative justice (criminal justice category). And the best: Space2face is for EVERYONE! The organisation promises, “You don’t have to be creative or arty to use our service! We’ve just learned that through making, talking about difficult things is sometimes easier.” Definitely look through their page if this interests you: Space2face!

What is Clair going to share with us in her presentation?

Drawing Clair’s sketchbooks

Clair is in the final year of her PhD, which investigates whether a handmade gifted object can enable connections, or moments of convergence and solidarity across the space between people in Restorative Justice. …So basically, that means that she is researching the potential of self-made objects to connect people, in context of Restorative Justice.

In her workshop, she will share with us pieces from her PhD research in Restorative Justice and Design. It will quickly become evident, that Clair is very interested in language. Therefore, she is going to examine some of the words and phrases she has gathered to begin a discussion around language for speaking about the narratives of convergence (from ‘com’ – with, together + ‘vergere’ – to bend, turn, tend toward).

Peerie Boxes. A miniature exhibition curated with artist Kristi Tait, in partnership with Laura, a lady living with dementia

As part of the talk, Clair will show handmade objects gifted between participants in Restorative Justice encounters. Looking at these objects, you will hear through the artwork, the voices of the creators, and the moments of convergence they enabled, in part, through their objects. …”HEARING voices” through OBJECTS? This will truly be a holistic tickle for – at least two of- our senses!

Hungry to learn more about our wonder-full Clair? Click here: http://www.clairaldington.com/ This link is the entrance door to her fascinating projects, more pictures of her stunning drawings and you can even get a glimpse into her personal sketchbooks! Oh, and last but not least: Clair also runs her own scientifically-artsy blog!

RJ and Covid-19: Three leaders address the current pandemic

Annegrete Johanson (Estonia)

Our wonderfully young but wise Annagrete comes to us from Estonia. She has worked with youth at risk in diferent fields and gave lectures in Universities for over 14 years. She now works as a service manager in Victim support and her responsibility is Restorative Justice and mediation. Annagrete also studied social work, social pedagogy and child care.

What will Annagrete share with us in her presentation?

She will give us an overview of the challenges and sucessses of implementing Restorative Justice in Estonia in the last years. Next to finding a system of volunteers, the time of Covid-19 gave opportunity to develop Restorative Practice further. Especially, since we all were forced to think and look outside the box. Annagrete explains: “In Covid-19 time there were restorative discussion-circles online and after restrictions there were restorative discussion-circles in real life.” In her presentation, she will create a magical space dedicated to storytelling of people who took part in Restorative Practice initiatives.

Meanwhile, to get ready for her talk, you can check out a post which is part of the #SolidarityOverDistance series by the EFRJ (European Forum for Restorative Justice). The article with Annagrete is called “Discussion with Annagrete Johanson” – you’ll learn more about the influence of COVID-19 on Restorative Practice…

Mark Goodwin (UK)

Mark, our freelance teacher, trainer & coach has 20 years’ experience working across phases in a number of schools. He currently work in Alternative Provision with kids who are permanently excluded from school or at risk of exclusion, delivering a solutions focused coaching programme alongside key curriculum.

Moreover, he focusses on preventing kids being excluded by training staff in restorative and relational teaching approaches. He gracefully shared his Checklist focussing on“(…) how to go about building and maintaining effective relationships with young people to help them learn well.” Get free access to the checklist, which includes helpful tips, here: “The Cookie Jar Checklist“!

Also, he has published for “TES” (Times Educational Supplement) on the topic that’s in everyones minds at the moment… Yes, right: Coronavirus. More specifically: Teaching and Coronavirus. Or even better: “4 ways to re-integrate pupils who dislike school” during coronavirus.”

What will Mark share with us in his presentation?

His main topic will address the controversial and questioned matter of Coronavirus in context of education. Mark states: “Reconnecting with young people after Covid after recent events, there will be hundreds of kids who feel disconnected from school, learning and even themselves. This will most keenly be felt by those who are already disadvantaged and marginalised.”

Mark will draw on his deepened experience and expertise in reconnecting excluded kids to learning. He promises to present what is required in the coming weeks and months to support a successful reconnection, including:
– the mindset teachers need,
– the learning kids can do,
– the relationships that will be needed to be built.

He will share with us his approaches, which are based on:
– meeting the kids where they are,
– throwing a wide circle,
– “I see you”,
– “see the best part”, and
– “check Yourself”

He also let us know that his talk is “full of practical advice and approaches that anybody working with young people can take away and use.”

Dr Belinda Hopkins (UK)

“Transforming Conflict” logo. Taken from their Website: https://transformingconflict.org/

Please meet the fantastic lady who founded “Transforming Conflict“, a National Centre for Restorative Approaches in Youth and Community Settings, 25 years ago! The project “Transforming Conflict” turned out to meet an important social need, so that it now works with staff in children’s residential care, youth organisations and community care. Belinda is also a well-published author and restorative practitioner, trainer and consultant.

But that’s not all – Belinda pioneered the concept of a “whole-school restorative approach” across the UK in the early 2000’s! A true sage and visioner, she is. Moreover, she is on the EFRJ Values and Principles Working Party and is currently on their Training Committee.

What will Belinda share with us in her presentation?

Take a seat, and imagine this scenario…

“It is undeniable that schools worldwide, school communities are facing a ‘new normal’.
After months of isolation and frightening news bulletins we are soon to return to strange new environments facing guidelines that keep people at a distance, hidden behind masks, unable to socialise.
There is huge pressure to make up for lost time academically.
Schools may be tempted to become even more authoritarian to bring students back in line after months away from the routines and rhythms of their school community.

So what do we do in this case?

Belinda will share a package of resources designed by UK restorative practitioners to support the mental and emotional health of the whole school community at this time of crisis. Before the talk, or during the talk – make sure you give this Website “www.restoreourschools.com” a visit! There, you learn more about “(…) How we plan for the return to the classrooms, playgrounds and corridors of schools.” You can also find help-full resources that support this journey.

So, sustainable, practical and informative take-away packages from these 3 speakers are guaranteed! See you there!

The Transformational Power of Youth RJ – 30 speakers share

Historically, young offenders have been processed and treated in a comparable manner to adult offenders. However, with the rise of the RJ philosophy and methodology, young people were some of the first to be trailed in this new and innovative paradigm. Over thirty years later, RJ has increasingly built a good name and continues to play a powerful role in youth justice. Around the world, due to RJ approaches and practices, many young people have been diverted and discouraged from pursuing careers of crime.

“The concept of restorative justice is always applicable, that is we ask: What are the harms that have happened? What are the needs that have resulted? Whose obligations are they? How do we engage people in the process? To what extent can we engage people in the process? Those questions are always valid.”

Professor Howard Zehr

For many young offenders, crime does not occur in a vacuum, separate from the rest of life, but rather is aggravated by other circumstances or problems that exist. For example, there are parents, teachers, peers, and a whole range of other social, or relational, features and elements involved.

In a retributive system, however, many young offenders are processed and sentenced without physical, emotional, and spiritual needs being sufficiently appraised and addressed. Once a victim gets to prison, or some other sentencing result, these needs are often only exacerbated and can detrimentally affect their health and prospect of healing.

Research suggests that RJ practices with youth offenders have led to many promising outcomes, through programs like conferencing, victim-offender mediation, and circle sentencing. In Australia, where indigenous youth over-representation is a considerable concern, these diversionary programs for young people can lead to life-changing beneficial impacts for the offenders and their families. Especially in youth RJ, it is considered important to involve the peers and role models that surround both the offender and victim. This vividly reminds all involved that crime is not isolated, but involves relationships and the community that surrounds these people. And it is often only the RJ approach that helpfully acknowledges this reality.

RJ is based on the recognition that each party involved in the offense – offender, victim, and community – has needs and possibly trauma, and healing must take place.

As many key professionals have suggested, it must be recognised that RJ and the traditional criminal justice system do not need to be mutually exclusive. Each brings a different perspective and, with those different perspectives, different goals and results. When we consider the reality of youth crime, it can be appreciated that RJ can have great results for youth offenders, diverting them from a cyclic and recurring recidivism reality.

During RJ World 2020, we will hear from presenters on the topic of youth RJ. Youth present unique needs and obligations according to a RJ paradigm, which must be genuinely recognised and met with appropraite and sensitive practice.

Victim empowerment: Emerging ideas from 4 speakers

Crime victims should be central to the restorative process. There are over 10 speakers at RJ World who speak on this issue from various perspectives –included among them are survivors of violent crime who overcame their experiences to become academics and practitioners. Here are four to start with.

Malini Laxminarayan

Malini Laxminarayan has in the past worked on projects relating to empowerment of victims of sexual violence, victims’ rights, and access to restorative justice. Her presentation at the upcoming RJ World 2020 Conference will cover new research into experiences of victims of anti-LGBT hate crime in restorative justice. These are preliminary findings from the Lets Go By Talking project which addresses an under researched victim group in restorative justice. This type of victim may require a unique approach as victims suffer not just a personal attack but an attack on their identity. This presentation may benefit those wishing to enhance their understanding of how to engage this unique kind of victim in restorative conflict resolution.

Margot Van Sluytman

Margot Van Sluytman teaches global citizenship at Centennial College, Toronto and is an award-winning justice activist and writer. In her presentation she will explain an emergent model of restorative justice called Sawbonna, in terms of both criminal justice and social justice. Sawbonna challenges common definitions of restorative justice and further empowers victims as informers of policy and active storytellers beyond a bystander role in justice processes. Therefore, Sawbonna may be said to engage in the required discourses to further ideas of victim empowerment and indeed, RJ advocates will be curious to learn more about this approach which may broaden victim definitions in restorative justice.

Claudia Christen-Schneider

Claudia Christen-Schneider, President of the Swiss RJ Forum, will address the topic of trauma in restorative justice in her presentation. In order for RJ to facilitate healing for victims through empowerment and connection building, it is necessary to recognise where victims are also trauma survivors and, in this case, healing necessitates a trauma-informed approach. Research has shown that RJ practitioners may lack this understanding of trauma and are therefore limited in their capacity to facilitate healing and so this presentation will explain trauma-informed restorative practices for the more effective empowerment of victims.

Dr Zulfiya Tursunova

Dr Zulfiya Tursunova is Assistant Professor in the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at Guilford College, North Carolina. Dr. Tursunova’s presentation will examine the case study of women in rural Uzbekistan who have used restorative circles for their own empowerment in tackling social and economic issues, issues of gender, reorganisation of resources, conflict resolution, and community building. This case study may be interesting in the context of how restorative processes can play a role in social change. It is also interesting that restorative practices have been employed in this context since 1991 and so the role and effect of restorative practices can be seen over a significant period of time. Furthermore, this presentation will be interesting to those considering the breadth of contexts wherein restorative practices prove impactful.


What is the role of the crime victim in restorative justice?

Aertsen et al (2011) suggested that the definition of victim empowerment be broadened in restorative justice from simply an idea of developing self-confidence and understanding of the offence to a sense of empowerment that develops the victim’s capacity to promote social change.1 Indeed, this discussion of victim emancipation which allows the victim a sense of positive impact and the opportunity to engage with crime-relevant social issues is increasingly prevalent. Attendees of the upcoming 2020 RJ World Conference may be interested in hearing emerging ideas around victim empowerment in restorative justice and how victim participation can give a sense of power to affect positive change. In this vein, the following presentations may be of particular interest.

Victim empowerment may be understood as an effort to give victims a greater sense of control and more of an active role in criminal justice processes. Arguably, criminal justice has traditionally been offender-focused, to the detriment of the victim who may feel undervalued and unimportant through the process. Different efforts have been made to ‘empower’ the victim through giving them an opportunity to speak on the impact of the crime on them personally or the opportunity to express what they want from the process. Such efforts – including the likes of victim impact statements – aim to leave victims with a greater sense of satisfaction or closure coming from the criminal justice process. Restorative justice has been praised for improving the balance in criminal justice between the focus on the victim and on the offender. By utilising a process which aims to recognise the needs of both victim and offender, RJ has successfully garnered more satisfactory feedback from victims than those reporting on traditional processes.

1 Prof. Ivo Aertsen of the Leuven Institute of Criminology will also be presenting at the RJ World 2020 Conference on the topic of the history of RJ and the potential of RJ in serious crime, reflecting on the recent history of RJ and RJ developing away from the criminal law


About the author: Ruairí Weiner has recently completed a BA in Anthropology and Criminology from Maynooth University. He is currently a Research Assistant at Maynooth University Department of Law and is pursuing an MSc in Applied Social Research at Trinity College Dublin. He is interested in organisational culture in criminal justice settings and how restorative practices can be applied to a variety of settings for community building and other purposes.