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‘Introduction to Restorative Justice and Victim-Offender Mediation’
Restore will offer mediation training to the public on Tuesday, June 21st from 6:30 to 9:00 pm, continuing on Thursday, June 23rd from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. and concluding on Saturday, June 25th, from 8:30 to 4:30 p.m. Training will be held at East Side Lutheran Church, 1300 E 10th Street in Sioux Falls. The training workshop will also include an introduction to the approach to crime and conflict resolution known as restorative justice. It is open to all members of the community.
The training draws also on the transformative model of conflict resolution. Participants will leave the training with an understanding of “the language of conflict,” approaches to resolving conflict which recognize and empower the participants, and the skills and techniques which will enable them to serve as volunteer mediators in the victim-offender mediation program through Restore, if desired. The training is open to the general public, including youth and elders. No prior mediation experience is required, just an interest in learning more about peaceful solutions to conflict and opportunities to apply it. Participants will leave the training with an understanding of “the language of conflict,” approaches to resolving conflict which recognize and empower the participants, and with skills and techniques that will enable them to apply their learning with groups, business, and relationships.
Pre-registration is required. Additional information and registration forms may be downloaded here.
Cost is $35 which will cover cost of supplies. Fees are payable in advance with registration. Those who attend all three sessions will receive a copy of Howard Zehr’s The Little Book of Restorative Justice. Scholarships are available.
Training will be by Dr. John Gehm, former Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of South Dakota and the Director of Restore. Gehm has been a researcher, mediator and trainer for over 20 years and also serves on the board of directors of the National Association for Community Mediation.
Pre-registration is required. Registration forms can be downloaded from the website. Call Restore 605-338-6020, send an e-mail to email@example.com or use the “Contact Us” page to obtain more information.
A recent post by Hofstra’s Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation caught my attention. They have recently published a tremendously useful source book entitled Transformative Mediation: A Sourcebook. I would invite you to investigate the transformative model first put forward by Folger and Bush many years ago. I believe that what it shares in common with restorative justice is the awareness of and respect for the integrity of the individuals who are in conflict not necessarily due to a problem needing to be solved but a context to be understood. How often do we go right to the ‘fix it’ model without giving people a chance to tell their stories with respect, without interruption, and taken seriously. As RJ continues to mature and transform I think it is worth our attention to think about how we move beyond victim-offender mediation and understand that, at root, we are about peacemaking and community. What do you think?
What place does transformative mediation have in Court-connected programs?
“More than 1000 cases are referred to the Mediation Center of Dutchess County each year from courts and similar agencies. In one recent year, more than 600 cases were business disputes such as landlord/tenant and consumer/merchant issues referred from twelve local courts. More than 180 cases of child custody/ visitation/ support issues between parents or extended family were referred from Family Court; and Supreme Court has referred adult guardianship cases…. Transformative mediation is used in all of these cases. Negotiating the transition to transformative practice in courts came down to explaining what we would do that would meet the courts’ own goals.
“We explained ’empowerment’ as helping people become clear about their situation so that decisions could be made. ‘Recognition’ was explained as understanding the other person’s point of view. We talked about mediation as a ‘conversation’ between parties. ‘Changing interaction’ meant that decisions could be made and next steps could be taken because something had changed between the parties. These explanations were helpful to the courts because these goals were not inconsistent with their own. Transformative values are present — in the work that we do and in the relationships that have been fostered.”
what are the possibilities of an integrative framework?
Mesa, Arizona, 04/11/2011 — Frustrated neighbors, feuding families, and others caught in stressful situations have a new advocate in their quest to finally put their conflicts to rest. John Gehm, Director of Restore, Inc. has recently been elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association for Community Mediation. In this new capacity, John Gehm will serve as a national advocate for increased awareness, accessibility, and utilization of constructive community mediation and other conflict-assistance services.
Community mediation helps those in difficult conflicts directly engage the other side and work through the situation using a trained, impartial mediator. From noisy neighbors to family fall-outs, interpersonal spats to embattled public policy divisions, community mediation works to move individuals and entire communities from conflict to concord. In fact, over 400 community mediation programs throughout the country assist countless individuals each year in overcoming seemingly impossible problems to discover their own customized resolutions to earlier discord.
Through Gehm’s new role, programs everywhere will benefit from his extensive background and local experience helping our own community better engage its conflicts. He will work to equip and enhance these services in other communities, as he shares this national platform and wisdom through his continued service to our own area residents.
For additional information, please contact: Justin R. Corbett, Executive Director of the National Association for Community Mediation (NAFCM), at (602) 633-4213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional information about NAFCM: In communities around the globe, programs and volunteers share their expertise to help others constructively engage, transform, and resolve conflict. NAFCM supports these peacemakers by aggregating their wisdom, amplifying their voice, and advancing their critical work. An active advocate for constructive conflict-assistive services, NAFCM support the over 400 community mediation programs across the U.S. and many others internationally. For more information, including an interactive map of local programs and resources to help you move beyond conflict, please visit www.nafcm.org.Justin R. Corbett National Association for Community Mediation (602) 633-4213 email@example.com www.nafcm.org
This piece comes courtesy of Cherise Hairston director of the Dayton, Ohio Mediation Center and was sent to members of the National Association for Community Mediation. It’s worth a read. Where are there places in our corner of the world to address issues of in-civility, dis-respect, and failure of desire–to communicate as human beings. We need to remind ourselves that civil discourse sometimes needs a booster shot but the vaccine is available at no charge.
Dearest NAFCM Members,
If you did not have the opportunity to watch/hear President Obama deliver a memorial speech in Tucson last night for the victims of the Tucson, AZ victims, consider “googling” the speech on the internet or catching it on YouTube.
Regardless of one’s political affiliation or feelings about President Obama, this is a beautiful speech that speaks directly to our work as conflict resolution professionals:
“The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives-to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.” (emphasis mine)
I do not want to come off as “opportunistic” in the midst of this tragedy. However, I do see this as an opportunity as a field to work harder at spreading this message of civility in how we treat one another despite our differences. As a field, we hold deeply the belief that if parties to a conflict are supported in constructive ways (i.e., the use of conflict resolution processes, the use of third-party intervenors) that we can manage our most bitter conflicts, in ways that are peaceful and non-violent. We can agree to disagree while not seeking to decimate the character of the people we are in conflict with, or to even strike out and kill one another because we disagree with each other.
This message of managing conflicts and disagreements by peaceful means has been our field’s message. While we have always had a challenge of bringing forth this message to the public, we now face even greater challenges in bringing forth our message of constructive conflict resolution to the world because we, as a people, are constantly being exposed to so many images of violence and destructive discourse between people. We especially see this almost daily on the news in the images of poisonous political discourse between politicians and pundits, between people of diverse political backgrounds on “both sides of the isle”.
These images of poisonous political discourse are everywhere and invade the public consciousness and promote the message that we can talk nasty to one another, make threats to harm or kill someone because of differing beliefs and values, and be disrespectful to one another failing to recognize that we all have the right to be treated with dignity and to not have our humanity stripped away from us because of our differences, or have our character assassinated because of what we believe.
“But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized—at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do—it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds”
This is the challenge we face as a field in delivering our message of the importance of civil discourse between one another, despite our differences. We face the challenge of the ever increasing tolerance for violence and character assassination when we disagree with one another on fundamental issues of values and beliefs. Many of our political leaders, at all levels of government, fail to realize that they have powerful influence and can set the tone on how we interact with one another. Unfortunately, many times they have failed to do so reinforcing destructive ways of interacting with one another.
From Obama’s speech:
“we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American generation to future generations.
“I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here—they help me believe. We may not be able to stop evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.”
President Obama has issued a call to all Americans (and the world) to be better. His words encourage me to be reflective and always remember that “the way” is always to tap into my inherent capacities for “decency and goodness”. We all have this inherent capacity for decency and goodness.
The Conflict Resolution field in general, and Community Mediation in particular, must answer this call. We must find ways to unite our message with President Obama’s message and strengthen our efforts to bring the message of the importance of conflict resolution skills and constructive and non-violent processes for managing our conflicts and differences in constructive, civil, and non-violent ways.
“We recognize our own morality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame—but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others.”
May peace and love always be with each of you as you endeavor to do this important work of providing conflict resolution skills and processes to our fellow community members and to the peoples of the world.
Cherise D. Hairston
The Restore organization will be offering victim-offender mediation training to the public on Friday, October 1st from 6-10 p.m. and concluding on Saturday, October 2nd from 8:30 to 4:30 p.m. Training will be held at East Side Lutheran Church, 1300 E 10th Street in Sioux Falls. The workshop will also include an introduction to restorative justice. Restorative justice is an approach to harm and conflict which attempts to involve, to the greatest extent possible, those who have a stake in the offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.
Cost is only $95, payable in advance with registration. Tuition covers the entire two-days of training, all course materials, supplies, and a light lunch on Saturday. Those who are interested in serving as mediators in the programs offered by Restore are encouraged to also attend the Advanced Mediation Training currently scheduled for December. Scholarships for both trainings are available.
Training will be facilitated by experienced mediators, and led by Dr. John Gehm, former Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of South Dakota and the Director of Restore. Gehm has been a researcher, mediator and trainer for over 20 years.
The training also draws on the transformative model of conflict resolution. Participants will leave the training with an understanding of “the language of conflict,” approaches to resolving conflict which recognize and empower the participants, and with skills and techniques that will enable them to apply their learning with groups, business, and relationships. The training is open to the general public, including high school age youth and elders. No prior mediation experience is required, just an interest in learning more about peaceful solutions to conflict and opportunities to apply it.
Pre-registration is required. Registration forms can be downloaded here. Call the Restore offices 605-338-6020 for more information.
Application for CEU credits for Social Work and Education has been made.
“Who is without fault, cast the first stone”(John8:7) rebukes those who have a surfeit of righteousness to back off and comforts those who recognize how their faults and mistakes have caused pain and suffering.
If fault is caused by simple personal insult, reparation is relatively simple, but criminal behavior presents a larger problem for forgiveness. Might forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration, be possible as an additional strategy to punishment?
Justice that restores emphasizes repairing the harm caused by criminal behavior. Restitution and restoration is best accomplished through co-operative processes that include victim, offender, the court system and mediators.
Exploring restoration changes the emphasis from gaining cold comfort out of how much punishment is inflicted to measuring justice by how much harm is repaired or prevented: a more satisfactory solution all round.
In the United States more than 300 mediation programs work toward restorative justice. In Sioux Falls an organization called “Restore”(formerly VORP) works by providing mediation and other alternatives in an overloaded, unsustainable criminal justice system.
South Dakota has one of the lowest crime rates in the country, but its incarceration rate is twice as high as Massachusetts. South Dakota incarcerates juveniles at a rate more than five times higher than Mississippi. As of September 2009 19% of South Dakota State prison inmates were serving time for drug offenses, nearly 2/3 of those for “possession” of a controlled substance. Another 40% were serving time for nonviolent crimes other than drug offenses. In the United States one in every hundred adults is in prison and one in 45 on probation or parole. In 2007 corrections spending was the fastest-growing major component of state budgets.
When corrections’ spending is the fastest-growing major component of state budgets, restorative justice seems like an idea whose time has come round again. It is time for citizens of good will to pause before “casting stones.” Let us step into the arena and look for alternatives to punishment that are cost effective, restorative, and in keeping with the gospel value of forgiveness.
This article first appeared in “From the Pulpit” January 16, 2010 as featured in the Argus Leader. The Rev. Peter Holland supervises Clinical Pastoral Education at Avera Health and is a board member for Restore.