What is the Community Resolution Process?
Restorative justice is a philosophy that guides communities in their response to wrongdoing and crime. Restorative Community Circles are one forum used to enact restorative philosophy. CRC brings together the person(s) harmed with the person(s) who caused the harm—as well as supporters, family and community members—to talk about the incident and to come to an agreement for how the person(s) who caused the harm can take responsibility for their actions. Generally, a referral comes to the Restorative Justice Project (RJP) through a corrections or probation officer, a lawyer or through the District Attorney’s office or a school. Thereafter, RJP facilitators guide participants through the following:
The Community Resolution process involves five main components:
- Separate Preliminary conversaton meetings with the offender and their family or support person(s) and with victim(s), and their family and support persons, to share about restorative justice philosophy and process and to answer any questions.
- The Community Resolution Circle involves the offender, their family members and/or support people, the victim and their family members and/or support people, community members, a trained volunteer mentor for each offender, and facilitators from RJP. This is a formal, guided conversation which gives everyone involved the chance to answer 5 primary questions:
- What happened?
- What were you thinking and feeling at the time of the incident?
- What have you been thinking and feeling since this incident?
- Who was affected and how?
- What needs to be done to make things right?
This conference will result in a collaboratively compiled “Repair Agreement”—detailing how the offender will take responsibility for repairing the harm they have caused—that the offender is expected to complete with the support of their RJP mentor. Sometimes, the process concludes with the Circle.
- Repair Agreement Completion/ Mentoring phase (duration varies; typically 8-12 weeks for a juvenile, 6-12 months for an adult) during which time the participant is expected to meet with their mentor once a week for at least an hour and to make steady progress towards fulfilling the obligations listed in the Repair Agreement.
- Closing Conference with the original conference participants to discuss whether the Repair Agreement has been completed and to determine, collectively, if justice has been achieved and whether the offender has met their obligations and the case can be closed.
- Wrap-up: RJP staff composes a formal letter to the referring party notifying them of the participants’ outcome and, when successful, asking that charges be lessened or dropped according to the original understanding from the court or corrections officer.
Engaging Community, Building Lives, Restoring Hope
P.O. Box 141, Belfast, ME 04915