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.

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.

Trauma and Restorative Justice: 8 specialists to learn from

Trauma awareness is central to restorative responses but there is less understanding on how to formally integrate it into practice. These eight RJ World speakers shed light on ways to work with individuals and communities facing trauma.

Kerri Quinn (USA)

Kerri Quinn has been a mediator, facilitator and peace weaver for 15 years. Concurrently an adjunct professor of organizational conflict resolution and leadership at Creighton University Law School and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, she is also partner and consultant for Restorative Way based in Colorado. The organization she passionately works for believes in weaving elements of empathy and accountability in a variety of settings ranging from schools to workplaces.

Recognizing the dire need for trauma-responsive restorative communication practices, she has developed specialized training for schools and victim advocates.

In her FIRST presentation she focuses on the underlying dynamics of conflict and language tools to pivot a conflict conversation to focus on the needs of the parties, understand the impact of conflict, and ultimately create lasting resolution. Her core area of trauma responsive restorative communication tackles conflict in a novel way.Viewing “conflict as an opportunity for rebuilding trust, mutual respect, and accountability” her work has been used throughout the USA in schools, correctional facilities, families for profit and non-profit victims’ organizations.

Her SECOND presentation explores the “unwanted bond” created when a person is harmed by another individual, the implications of such a bond and stages of trauma experienced by and offenders. Her captivating stories from high risk victim offender dialogues

Stories are shared from (murder and vehicular homicide cases) that successfully broke this bond and allowed for restoration and healing.

Kerri has facilitated over 1000 restorative intervention dialogues. Her work in building successful restorative justice programming has established her as a “restorative thought-leader” in the state of Colorado.

She is also the co-author of the book “Building Trauma-Responsive Restorative Cultures” (2018)

Leaf Seligman (USA)

Leaf Seligman is an author and restorative justice practitioner with a teaching experience of over thirty years. Moved by the feeling of disconnection, Leaf connected with the invisible in the society from a tender age and has since worked towards making the stories of the marginalised – prisoners be heard. Taking up teaching and writing to prisoners which has changed many lives.

Seligman takes us through her journey of disconnection and connection in this moving talk:

https://youtu.be/JMsj2qXRs2g

Seligman is a Trauma-informed, Empathy-based, Whole-self care practitioner and a co-founder of Monadnock Restorative Community and Cheshire County Restorative Justice Program. She has extensively published, one of her noted works being ‘From the Midway: Unfolding stories of Redemption and Belonging’ published in 2019. Here is an interesting video of a musically infused dramatic reading:

https://youtu.be/hHAo0PqLKs8

In her presentation, Seligman will be talking about The Importance of Tenderness: Cultivating Accountability and Community through trauma-informed, self-compassion. She will be addressing the critical need for a practical and compassionate approach to cultivate accountability, factoring in the widespread effects of trauma and the errant approach to justice that seeks to punish rather than understand. She will invite listeners to reflect on the challenge of developing compassion for self and others in the context of polarization, marginalization and collective anxiety. With warmth, humor and pragmatic tools, as an author, minister, educator and restorative justice practitioner, she wills to offer a pathway to greater connection, compassion and accountability necessary for a community restored to wholeness where everyone can flourish.

To know more about Leaf, visit www.leafseligman.com.

Dr. Colleen Pawlychka (Canada)

Representing Canada, Dr. Colleen Pawlychka is a faculty member at Douglas College, New Westminster, BC. She is also an affiliate of Restorative Justice International and a member of its Global Advisory Council. Her scholarship and research are interdisciplinary and are informed by practical experience in the fields of restorative justice and corrections.

Her presentation she discusses the phenomenon of Childhood Psychological Trauma (CPT). Often individuals carry their childhood emotional wounds with them into adulthood which may continue throughout their lifetime. She proposes healing CPT as essential for rehabilitation.

Through a series of in-depth interviews with former Canadian federal male prisoners who self-identified as having experienced CPT, she not only examines their experiences and highlights their voices but also emphasizes the critical role of community members in the rehabilitative process and the destructive impacts of excessively punitive correctional tactics. She has observed through her research that community-prisoner connection is integral to healing childhood psychological trauma, reflects trauma-informed, gender-responsive care, and constitutes a powerful, positive connection that should be encouraged as a rehabilitation strategy.

Colleen also facilitates experiential conflict resolution workshops and participates in weekly restorative justice circles in a BC federal prison. She also bridges the gap between community and prisoners, providing opportunities for criminology students and those who have experienced incarceration to learn directly from one another.

Urvashi Tilak (India)

Urvashi Tilak is the Director of the Restorative Justice Team at Counsel to Secure Justice (CSJ). She oversees the implementation of restorative justice work and practices of the organisation. CSJ, a non-profit based in India, serves and supports individuals and communities that have experienced trauma to ensure they are safe, heard, and receive true healing and justice. Counsel to Secure Justice (CSJ) is one of the few organisations working on developing restorative justice and practices in India.

Visit the CSJ website here to find out more: https://csjindia.org/

CSJ works with children who have caused harm, providing psycho-social support and restorative talking circles in protective and custodial child care institutions. CSJ offers restorative justice and reintegration and healing processes for children. So far, CSJ has worked with 250 children in institutions, facilitated two restorative justice processes and held three reintegration processes for children who caused harm.

In her presentation, Urvashi proposes to discuss the journey of the Counsel to Secure Justice in establishing restorative practices in India. It will also discuss how CSJ has facilitated Restorative Justice processes and the learnings and challenges of offering restorative practices within Indian legal system.

Check out her take on Healing through Kindness here: https://www.livemint.com/mint-lounge/features/unseen-2019-smashing-the-patriarchy-with-kindness-11577462953669.html

Anna De Paula (Brazil)

As a Public Prosecutor from Brazil, Anna De Paula introduces us to peacemaking circles employed by her and her team to pay special attention to crime victims. Her presentation gives us valuable insights as to how to help and support crime victims even with budgetary restrictions. She also informs us about the importance of trauma awareness.

Geovana Fernandes (Brazil)

Geovana Fernandes holds a Masters in Law focusing on Restorative Justice. She is a Circles Facilitator, Mediator, Federal Justice Public Servant and Director of ADR’s Center. She discusses restorative justice from the lens of alternative dispute resolution. She proposes that restorative justice emerges as a new legal concept to mobilize a diversity of issues and knowledge.

Her present study aims to critically analyze the restorative approach in the context of the multi-door courthouse and from the inflows of the holistic paradigm, as an adequate method to solve conflicts that have generative potential due to traumas and sufferings, in order to allow the interruption of the destructive spiral and thus prevent the emergence of new conflicts.

Some foundations and goals of restorative justice are also going to be addressed, along with the role of narratives in the re-signification of traumatic experiences and how they can be used in restorative circles.

Finally, the potential of restorative justice for the development of mutual recognition will also be evaluated by her.

Claudia Christen-Schneider (Switzerland)

Claudia Christen-Schneider is the Founder and President of the Swiss RJ Forum. She is very active in promoting, developing and implementing restorative justice in Switzerland and also involved in the EFRJ’s values & standards committee.

For more information about Restorative Justice in Switzerland, please visit her website: www.swissrjforum.ch

Her presentation puts forth the idea that trauma-healing should form part of RJ’s practices. According to her RJ shares several commonalities with the concept of ‘trauma-informed care’, which aims to create an environment where professionals know about trauma and adapt their practice according to this knowledge. Both trauma-informed care and RJ seek to promote healing in trauma-survivors through empowerment, story-telling, building healthy and secure relationships and stimulating reconnection. However, according to available literature and conducted research, many RJ programs seemingly lack a trauma-informed approach.

She raises and addresses the question if RJ fails to live up to its own goals of providing a needs-based and healing form of justice. She also explains what it means to work trauma-informed with all stakeholders in a restorative process.

FRAUKE PETZOLD (Germany)

Frauke Petzold has been a practitioner of Restorative Justice in Germany for about 28 years. She served as the Board member of European Forum for Restorative Justice for 6 years. Frauke works with WAAGE Hannover E.V.. She supervises and coaches by training on Restorative justice mediation, conflict management and conflict resolution in Germany and all over Europe. Her focus areas are victim-offender-mediation in domestic violence cases.

Frauke believes that domestic violence cases need significant consideration to be given to the interests of victims which are worth protecting. These victims not only include direct victims of the violent act, but also children involved. In her presentation she will be discussing perspectives of the victims of domestic violence on dealing with trauma.

Here is Frauke’s take on future of Restorative Justice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwL7Zg8thoM

Written by RJ World guest authors Konina and Anwesha

Konina Mandal is an Assistant Lecturer at Jindal Global Law School, O.P Jindal Global University, India. Her research interests include criminology and criminal justice, criminal laws and corrections. She will be co-presenting with Anwesha Panigrahi, Assistant Professor at ICFAI Law School,Hyderabad, India.

Anwesha Panigrahi is presently positioned as an Assistant Professor at ICFAI Law School, Hyderabad, India. She has an LLM in Criminal Justice, Family and Social Welfare. Her research interests include criminal justice, prison jurisprudence and prison laws, corrections, criminal laws and procedure. She will be co-presenting with Ms. Konina Mandal.

2020 Alberta Restorative Justice Conference

OUR ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Each year ARJA plans and hosts the Annual Alberta Restorative Justice Conference for practitioners, interested individuals and those working or interested in restorative justice. The annual conference is a great way to learn, share and network with one another.

This year we are proudly hosting the 14th annual Alberta Restorative Justice Conference on Nov. 19 – 20, 2020, on the international stage through the use of a virtual platform. We will continue the tradition of providing thought provoking and challenging discussions on topics related to the transformative potential of restorative justice in communities.

Over the course of our two-day conference we will explore our theme Restorative Justice: Community, Collaboration, Commitment through Keynotes, a panel discussion, a variety of workshops and an opportunity to explore our online exhibition space. We know that Restorative Justice is constantly evolving and improving how the world deals with harm and conflict, and it is not just limited to the criminal justice system. We believe that restorative justice can be applied in a variety of ways to address diverse situations anytime, anyplace, and anywhere!

ABOUT US

Alberta Restorative Justice Association (ARJA) is located in Alberta, Canada and is composed of organizations and individuals dedicated to increasing understanding of restorative justice and how it can benefit communities. ARJA encourages community action that strengthens existing restorative justice programs and encourages the development of new restorative justice programs in communities in Alberta.

We believe that a Restorative Justice process changes the manner in which people deal with crime and conflict to a positive and transforming process for the community. The best way for members to make positive changes for their own involvement with Restorative Justice and for the community is a collective voice through an organization. We also believe that Restorative Justice is a continuum of services that involve the victim, offender and the community and incorporates the principles of respect, inclusiveness, accountability, reparation, restoration, and community involvement.

Dr Sandra Pavelka: beyond retributive systems in the US.

USA / Legal and judicial

Biography: Dr. Sandra Pavelka serves as Professor and Founding Director of the Institute for Youth and Justice Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University. Dr. Pavelka previously served as Project Administrator of the Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) Project, funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, US DOJ. She provides consultation, training and technical assistance with legislators, justice system and educational stakeholders, and victim advocates in the development and implementation of restorative justice principles, practices, legislation, policies and evaluation.

Topic: Lawmakers and justice system administrators seek to clarify the aims of justice management and policy, while exploring possibilities for the future of the justice system beyond individual treatment/rehabilitation and retributive justice. Legislators and justice system administrators have reformed their juvenile justice agenda from punitive actions to a means that provides responses to crime and wrongful occurrences by developing and implementing restorative legislation and policies. Restorative justice seeks to balance the needs of the victim, offender and community by repairing the harm caused by wrongdoing and delinquent acts. Dr. Pavelka will present her research that found a majority of states in the US have incorporated restorative justice in statute or code that include general provisions and intent, practices, funding and evaluation. The state of Colorado, which notably implements systemic reform by integrating restorative justice principles and practices in law and policy, is examined as a model state.

A framework for environmental restorative justice – Dr Brunilda Pali

Belgium / Environmental justice

Dr. Brunilda Pali is a senior researcher at the Leuven Institute of Criminology, KU Leuven, Belgium. She is currently also Secretary of the European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ). Her areas of interest are gender, critical social theory, restorative justice, cultural and critical criminology, environmental justice, and arts. Her research website is www.restorotopias.com

Topic: Environmental restorative justice: A justice framework for preventing, stopping and repairing environmental harms

The challenges of developing meaningful responses to environmental harm that stop damaging the earth and its inhabitants (human and other-than human), that repair and heal the devastating harms already made, and build different systems that respect ecosystems and the rights of future generations, have never been greater. Restorative justice presents a great opportunity to bridge the ineffectiveness of existing environmental responses and the pressing need to stop existing harmful practices, repair harms made and prevent future environmental damage. In this presentation, I focus on the theoretical and conceptual alignments that are necessary to make in setting the agenda of environmental restorative justice. In addition, I illustrate with some past, present, or emerging worldwide initiatives on the field the possibilities and limits of the restorative engagement with environmental justice issues.

Prof. Jennifer Llewelyn heads new international RJ Lab

Canada / Academic

Bio: Professor of Law, Yogis and Keddy Chair in Human Rights Law and Donald R. Sobey Chair in Restorative Justice at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia Canada. Director of the Restorative Research, Innovation and Education Lab and the International Learning Community for a Restorative Approach. Research and work focused in areas of relational theory and a restorative approach, human rights, peacebuilding, truth and reconciliation, justice transformation and restorative communities.

Topic: The vision, approach, and plans for the newly established Restorative Research, Innovation and Education Lab (RRIELab) at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. The reference to “Lab” signals the goal and commitment to hold time, space, and build the connections needed to create, share and mobilize knowledge for action. The presentation will explore the potential and implications of this “change lab” grounded in the principles of a restorative approach for the growth and development of the field. The RRIELab will foster and support connections among researchers, practitioners, policymakers and educators locally, nationally and internationally to translate knowledge into action and to learn from innovation and action. The RRIELab will host and be supported by the Restorative Approach International Learning Community (ILC) – an international collaboration among those supporting the vision and implementation of restorative communities, cities and states.

More about the RRIELab here: DALHOUSIE OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES FIRST EVER INTERNATIONAL RESTORATIVE JUSTICE LAB

Restorative school culture in Finland – Dr Maija Gellin

Finland / Youth justice / Schools

Dr Maija Gellin is the director of the programme for restorative approach in education and schools (VERSO-programme) in Finland. She has also worked as a mediation officer under the victim-offender mediation service. She is giving lectures on restorative approach at Univ Helsinki and Univ Lapland as well as in many institutions in Finland and other countries. She is a board member of Finnish Forum for Mediation and a member of Finnish women peace builder’s group and Nordic mediation researcher’s group.

Co-presenter, Lawyer Pia Slögs is the director of community mediation centre in Finland. She is a restorative trainer and mediator. She has completed her studies on restorative justice at Univ Hull, UK. She has worked earlier at victim-offender mediation services for 15 years. Pia is a co-trainer in VERSO-programme especially in Swedish spoken schools in Finland.

Topic: How to create a restorative school culture Restorative values such as respect, sense of community and participation as well as the rights of the child are more important than ever from the perspective of global health and well-being threats. Implementing the restorative approach in schools and day care is focusing not only giving restorative methods to school staff members but more to change the whole school culture to a restorative one. Based on 20 year experience in Finnish schools and the results of PhD research, this session is opening the key concepts of a restorative school community. Including restorative attitude, restorative participation and restorative mediation as basics for daily work in schools and kindergartens strengthens the positive identity of children as well as the wellbeing of whole school community and families. When the skill of restorative encounter is learned already in a school, this ability provides know-how throughout the life.

RJ model for family law pioneered in Mexico

This innovative model of restorative justice arises from the experience obtained from the family restoration processes carried out in the Justice Department in Mexico (Poder Judicial del Estado de México), which is a pioneer in restorative practices in judicial settings, achieving an integrated model from which aims to resolve the legal dispute, but goes further by addressing and attending the offenses and damages that arise in the family environment.

Architect of this initiative Professor Claudia Villavicencio will be speaking about this initiative at RJ World and joins us today.

RJ World: Thanks for being with us today Claudia! Could you give us a quick overview of this family initiative in your justice department.

Prof. Villavicencio: The Family Restorative Justice project seeks to deal with the damage in an integral way, that is, not only in form, but also in substance, reaching the damages, to look for alternatives that allow for their repair.

This involves the multidisciplinary intervention of a team made up of professionals from different social sciences, such as law, psychology, social work, etc., who together with the family facilitator, who directs the restoration process, accompany families on the road to dealing with offenses and repairing damages in the family relationship. Multidisciplinarity allows an integral mapping of the conflict from the experience of different professions, which allows identifying the damages and seeking effective alternatives that allow them to be repaired in an integral way.

Restorative justice, when applied to family law cases, allows addressing the entire spectrum of restorative practices from informal to formal practices, not only reactively, but also preventively, which allows families to strengthen healthy emotional and social ties.

The design of programs with a total, moderately or partially restorative approach, is also part of this integrative approach to heal the damage in family relationships, according to the needs of the participants.

Presentation summary: “The importance of the implementation of restorative justice in family conflicts, for the adequate and necessary care of the damage caused in said environment by the family conflict itself, in accordance with the philosophy, principles and methodologies of the practices restorative. The application of family restorative justice is necessary for those conflicts where the damage causes asymmetric conditions between people and this does not allow them to be addressed from a mediation approach, but under the accompaniment that is possible with family restorative justice with appropriate multidisciplinary intervention.”

RJ World: That’s a very comprehensive approach. How does this work in relation to courts and legal proceedings?

Prof. Villavicencio: In judicial settings where there is already a trial, formal restorative practices have been carried out in the Mexican Judiciary Power (Poder Judicial Mexiquense), such as “circles of restorative sentencing in family matter” (“círculos de sentencia restaurativos en materia familiar”) where with the collaborative approach and democratic restorative justice, judges, magistrates, lawyers, parents, children, community members, and the multidisciplinary team that facilitates and accompanies families, attend to damages, and seek to repair them, and with the agreements that emerged from the Restorative process and of the circle said, the corresponding sentence is issued in family matter, without a doubt having facilitated the first circle of this type, it  encourage my interest in strengthening and building a model.

RJ World: Thanks for speaking with us today Claudia. We’re looking forward to hearing all about it in August!

Prof. Villavicencio: Thank you.

Find out more at the Kartartizo website:
https://katartizo.com.mx

Spanish version of article: https://katartizo.com.mx/modelo-de-justicia-restaurativa-aplicado-a-los-conflictos-familiares/