Restorative Discipline - A New Approach to Justice
April 25th, 2019
We don’t have to look far to see the inconsistencies or trouble with the current justice system. This system starts at the very top of our toughest federal prisons and influences the way we discipline our kids. What we are currently doing to discipline and punish offenders simply doesn’t work, which begs the question; “What else can we do?” With a current prison population of more than 2-million, it’s clear that we have to start approaching this issue differently.
At Restorative Partners, we are approaching this issue head-on. After years of working from a restorative, legal and mindful place, we have served thousands of offenders who have gone on to live happy lives with a strong sense of accountability.
If you’re new to the idea of what restorative discipline is, (often called restorative justice) you’re not alone. This is a relatively modern approach to the justice system and the rehabilitation of those who have found themselves in complications with the criminal justice system. There are foundational ideas behind restorative discipline, and we are going to break down those below.
Crime is Redefined for Offenders
When most offenders commit a crime, they see it as nothing more than a means to get what they need personally. This varies from person to person but is the underlying theme among those who commit crimes. With restorative principles, we redefine what crimes really are; a violation of people and relationships. We can teach offenders that their crime goes beyond what they have “taken” and how it has impacted the victim and victim’s extended network of friends, family and work-life.
Justice is Rooted in a Network
After a crime is committed, most criminals face a system that has little to no interest in accountability or rehabilitation. In fact, it is law enforcement and courtrooms that tend to leave the biggest impression on a criminal which isn’t always the most positive. When a community approach is used to be the prevailer of justice, something remarkable happens. Now, we have law enforcement, victims, offenders and legal partners working together as a network to get the best possible outcome. This opportunity allows offenders to be heard, to offer an apology, understand their impact, and take accountability. The trade of time for criminal behavior at a correctional facility, doesn’t teach offenders anything more than disdain for the people and systems that put them there.
Empowering the Victim
In the traditional legal system, we have learned that justice is only served when “time” is served. Victims have to try to heal knowing time is being exchanged for a trespass, and often get no other closure. When victims are a part of the offenders' obligation and liability rehab, they are empowered and more obliged to accept apologies and offer forgiveness. This forgiveness is two-fold. It empowers the victim to move forward with their life, while allowing the offender to take more accountability and understand their greater role in favor of their community. We have seen some of the most unconventional friendships occur through this process.
In our approach to restorative discipline, we involve many partners. These partners come from all over the community and include resource programs, rehabilitation professionals, volunteers, legal partners, and law enforcement. Every one of the individuals involved in the restorative process has a responsibility to one another. From victim to offender. When “the community” works together to solve the issues of justice, people are more inclined to work together beyond the criminal act. Each person has a vested interest in the process for their own satisfaction which impacts the overall welfare of the community. It really is a remarkable cycle.
Can we answer more questions about our specific approach to restorative discipline and what it can do to help you, your program or community? Please call or connect with us today and let’s start the discussion.