When the depth of harm or breadth of consequence dims or wholly darkens the tunnel’s light, restorative practices are here to help. The partners of Community Mediation Minnesota are your compassionate guides in repairing harm, restoring relationships, and renewing a shared sense of community. Our restorative practices create reflective, safe, welcoming spaces carefully administered by trained facilitators. The profound acceptance, shifts, and vulnerability elicited through these practices are in a realm all their own. Their flexibility toward both context and need has allowed us to embed restorative practices within area schools, integrate them into formal juvenile diversion services, and deploy them in response to emerging community issues.
Understanding Restorative Practices
The process of each restorative practice is uniquely designed to its context and need. Most frequently this design includes a small circle of those immediately affected by a crime or other conflict. This will include a victim and offender (alternatively, two or more individuals in conflict), their respective support and accountability representatives, and the trained facilitator.
Following brief introductions of the participants and the process, a series of increasingly personal exchanges occur focusing on identifying the precipitating harm, its effects, and the requisite steps toward its repair. This sharing is loosely guided by the facilitator through periodic prompts and check-ins. It is otherwise participant directed to encourage the participant’s ownership of the conversation, its consequences, and its conclusions.
Why Explore Restorative Practices in Minnesota?
Restorative practices offer a variety of benefits from the procedural to the profoundly personal. The ultimate breadth and depth of benefits any particular participant receives are heavily influenced by the participant’s willingness to engage wholly in the process and the dynamic, unfolding experience it evokes. Some of the benefits frequently identified by our participants are described below.
Confidential. Confidentiality is a core expectation of the circle process and its participants. This shared commitment helps generate a space in which participants can feel comfortable sharing deeply personal truths and undergo profound transformations. Only in rare cases are outcomes shared with those outside the circle.
Connectedness. The personal reflections shared and received throughout a restorative intervention forge a palpable connection among participants. This bonding reminds participants of the interconnectedness of their actions and their effects, and it helps establish or renew a sense of community with those upon whom they will rely as progress moves beyond the circle.
Depth. Participants of restorative practices are encouraged to reflect with substantial depth regarding their role and responsibility for the reviewed harm. These practices explore experiences with a depth well beyond what is possible in formal legal proceedings or even other alternative dispute resolution processes.
Empowerment. Restorative practices intensely empower participants by encouraging ownership of their stories and by directly advocating for the method and measure of harm’s restoration.
Ownership. Through guided reflection upon one’s role, individuals are able to take ownership of their actions and accept responsibility for how those actions affected others. This is particularly important in restorative practices involving victim-offender situations.
Invasion & Insight. A family arrived home to find a group of adolescents in the process of burglarizing their home. Virtually every area of their home had been invaded and several items were taken. The family felt extremely violated. During the facilitated intervention, the victims were able to meet with some of the juveniles who caused them harm and undermined their sense of security. The process offered the victims an opportunity to receive personal apologies, help restore their sense of security, and personally offer forgiveness. It also helped the juveniles to understand the full impact of their actions. All parties affected by the incident were able to come up with a plan to bring closure to the incident and move forward in positive directions.