‘All human beings have the capacity to learn, grow and change.’ (Arthur Barry Adoff, Web Quest)
By taking restorative justice I recently was able to understand and realize to the fullest extent that change is possible in all human beings. My participation in class by actively listening and participating in the readings has led me to reflect on the role of our community as whole in changing the ‘lock you behind bars and throw away the key’ motto. That motto has produced a vast and still growing criminal class. Due to the lack of rehabilitation and the chance to reconcile this has kept our prisons full to the point of overflowing and requires a huge cash flow to keep the prison systems running. ‘The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world’. (Sullivan and Tift) Our prisons are places of serious violent offenders to non-violent offenders who have little help from the justice system to re-enter society.
Through restorative justice programs victims and offenders both are given a real opportunity to heal. The idea of Restorative Justice is complex and time consuming. The practice can go only as far as the victim and offender is willing to go. The whole idea of the practice is all personal based, the first step is being able to forgive and until you can do that no progression will be made. ‘Victims need to hear words spoken that acknowledge the pain and distress in their lives. Until those words are spoken it hinders the victim’s ability to create a psychological base that creates a more meaningful future’. (Sullivan and Tift) Hearing a sincere apology from the one who has done either psychological harm or physical harm to the victim helps relieve the pain that the individual is living with. When the offender stops justifying his or hers actions of wrong doing onto others it also helps the offender progress on their well-being. (Class Discussion Notes)
Restorative Justice is definitely a voluntary process and in some cases does not work for everybody. After reading Web Quest articles and doing the readings I’ve come up with the conclusion that Restorative Justice can be very beneficial to both parties. Not only does it benefit serious crime offenders and victims but also people who experienced wrong doing on a much smaller scale. For example, if we teach our youth from the ground up as they keep growing older about Restorative Justice, their ability to forgive and let go will show them that Restorative Justice is a system that ultimately is designed for their well-being. Not only is it designed for the individuals well-being but also will teach them that Retributive Justice will only damage matters on a bigger scale.
...(download the rest of the essay above)