Transforming Communities: Restorative Justice as a Community Building Strategy

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [McMaster University]On: 15 October 2014, At: 08:45Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Journal of Community PracticePublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:</p><p>Transforming Communities: RestorativeJustice as a Community Building StrategyElizabeth Beck aa School of Social Work, Georgia State University , School of SocialWork , Atlanta , Georgia , USAPublished online: 26 Dec 2012.</p><p>To cite this article: Elizabeth Beck (2012) Transforming Communities: Restorative Justiceas a Community Building Strategy, Journal of Community Practice, 20:4, 380-401, DOI:10.1080/10705422.2012.732003</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever orhowsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arisingout of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp;Conditions of access and use can be found at</p><p></p></li><li><p>Journal of Community Practice, 20:380401, 2012Copyright Taylor &amp; Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1070-5422 print/1543-3706 onlineDOI: 10.1080/10705422.2012.732003</p><p>Transforming Communities: Restorative Justiceas a Community Building Strategy</p><p>ELIZABETH BECKSchool of Social Work, Georgia State University, School of Social Work, Atlanta, Georgia, USA</p><p>Restorative justice is entering the social work literature as a strat-egy that can transform lives harmed by violence. However, theliterature has yet to explore how restorative justice can transformcommunities. Despite the lack of published information, commu-nities across the globe and the United States are experiencingimportant benefits from restorative justice-based interventions. Thisarticle explores 4 restorative justice strategies that seek to trans-form communities: restorative boards, community conferencing,community restorative support, and truth and reconciliation com-missions. The examination of the strategies includes case studiesthat are used to support a larger discussion of application, practice,outcomes, evaluation literature, and critiques.</p><p>KEYWORDS Collaboration, community building, communitypractice, neighborhood, peace, grassroots leadership</p><p>Building on the conflict resolution values and practices found in Indianand Aboriginal communities, and those of many other indigenous people,including African tribes, Western criminal justice theorists and practition-ers began to imagine a new response to crime and its aftermath in the1970s. Specifically, theorists and practitioners argued that although the typ-ical criminal justice system response to a crime is to determine who didwhat to whom and what punishment the offender deserves, a broader setof questions might be more beneficial to victims, offenders, and communi-ties. Howard Zehr (1990) suggested that these questions included: Who washurt? What are his or her needs? Whose obligation is it to address thoseneeds? The shift to addressing the broader set of questions, which has come</p><p>Address correspondence to Elizabeth Beck, School of Social Work, Georgia StateUniversity, 140 Decatur Street, Atlanta, GA 30303. E-mail:</p><p>380</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>McM</p><p>aste</p><p>r U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 08:</p><p>45 1</p><p>5 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>Transforming Communities 381</p><p>to be called restorative justice, was significant because it reflected a newway of looking at crime and because it recognized that victims, offenders,and communities were all affected by crime and played a role in healingfrom the effects of crime. As restorative justice theorists were shaping newviews of crime, practitioners explored new strategies, often based on indige-nous practices, to implement those ideas (Ross, 2006). These strategies arenow used to support communities in the process of recovering from crime,to resolve community-based conflicts, and to build community (Bazemore,2000; Leonard, 2011).</p><p>Most discussions of restorative justice are found in the criminal justiceliterature, but restorative justice does have a presence in the social workliterature, including the Encyclopedia of Social Work (van Wormer, 2008).However, the discussions in the social work literature have been largelylimited to exploring restorative justice in the context of criminal harm andinterpersonal violence (Pennell &amp; Burford, 2000). The literature contains littleabout restorative justice and its application for supporting and engaging com-munities, which is the focus of this article. The article begins with a literaturereview that explores restorative justice as both a theory and as practice, andthen provides details of restorative justice applications to communities. Thearticle ends with a discussion about the possibilities and cautions involvinga wider application of restorative justice in the community.</p><p>RESTORATIVE JUSTICE</p><p>Restorative Justice Theory</p><p>In his 1990 book, Changing Lenses, Zehr asked readers to rethink the view ofcrime as merely a violation of the state and to see it, instead, as a violation ofpeople and an indication of relationships in need of repair. What is now con-sidered the global restorative justice movement is based on theoretical andpractical advances regarding crime and punishment that included the pop-ularity of Zehrs book; the development of a victim-offender reconciliationprogram following a property crime in Elmira, Ontario, Canada that includedan intervention initiated by parole officer Mark Yanzi, a Mennonite; and thepassage of New Zealands Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act in1989, which was developed under the proviso that the state must create poli-cies that are culturally relevant to Maori families and youth (Leonard, 2011).Each of the aforementioned developments are considered in turn; all arebased on responses to crime that acknowledge the interconnections amongpeople, a perspective that is foundational to many forms of restorative justicepractice (Bazemore, 2000; Zehr, 1990).</p><p>In his seminal article, Conflicts as Property, Nils Christie (1977) arguedthat the state had stolen conflicts from the individuals involved, resulting intwo problems: Victims are lost in the process (easily evidenced when thecriminal justice system renames the conflict the state versus the name of</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>McM</p><p>aste</p><p>r U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 08:</p><p>45 1</p><p>5 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>382 E. Beck</p><p>the defendant), and the conflict loses its potential to engage political debateand support norm clarification (N. Christie, 1977; Johnstone, 2002). A secondsignificant contribution to the literature was John Braithwaites 1989 work onreintegrative shaming, which stated that an appropriate response to deviantbehavior is the offenders acceptance of accountability and the communitysexpression of sharp disapproval while maintaining bonds of respect andlove. Braithwaites approach can be viewed as aligned with the traditionalpractices used across the world, including the Navajo in the Americas andAboriginals in places such as Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia(McCold, 2008). Braithwaite argued that, at present, the dominant crimi-nal justice practice is steeped in disintegrative shaming, a punitive measurethat supports reoffending by breaking offenders bonds to their communi-ties, thereby relegating them to the margins of society (Braithwaite, 2002).Braithwaites work provides a strong argument for the effectiveness of rein-tegrative shaming and the need to incorporate indigenous community-basedpeacemaking practices with crime and punishment and conflict resolution.Although Braithwaites use of the term shame can be viewed as unfortunate,his belief in the process of accountability and community reintegration iscritical to restorative justice practice.</p><p>The most recognized form of the modern restorative justice movementis the victim offender dialogue, which, in part, grew out of a property crimein Elmira, Ontario. In the intervening months between two teenagers guiltypleas to 22 counts of vandalism and a judges sentencing order, parole officerMark Yantzi thought it important for the teenagers to meet their victims.Yantzis idea was initially viewed as unrealistic, even radical, but the judgein the case saw its merits and instructed the boys to reach out to the victims.The young men met with and offered apologies and retribution to 21 ofthe 22 victims. The response to the teenagers acts of vandalism has beencredited with reshaping western ideas about justice (Leonard, 2011).</p><p>In no place has the reshaping of the criminal justice system into arestorative justice model been stronger than in New Zealand, due to thepassage of the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act in 1989. Thisextraordinary legislation was a response to a 1988 report commissioned bythe New Zealand Department of Justice examining the overrepresentation ofMaori individuals in the criminal justice system, as well as general concernsabout crime rates. The report concluded that the Maori should be giventhe right to deal with conflicts involving Maoris in a culturally appropriateway. The resulting act sanctioned the Family Group Conference (FGC), aculturally relevant strategy, based on notions of kinship care, for conflictsinvolving juveniles. An FGC follows an act of family violence that is noticedby the state, or a crime that was committed by a youth. In an FGC, the youngpeople and the adults who care for them, including wider kinship and com-munity entities, work with the states professionals to resolve concerns andformulate a plan to address the situation. When a child is accused of a crimeor when the adults in the childs life harm him or her, an FGC, rather than</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>McM</p><p>aste</p><p>r U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 08:</p><p>45 1</p><p>5 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>Transforming Communities 383</p><p>a courtroom, is the preferred venue for redress (Johnstone, 2002; MacRae &amp;Zehr, 2004; Pennell &amp; Anderson, 2005).</p><p>Restorative Justice Practice</p><p>Restorative justice offers the possibility of healing, repair, and transforma-tion. To facilitate these outcomes, the victim(s), offender(s), and communitymembers often come together, in what is called a restorative encounter, totalk about the event. Given the gravity of many of the events that precipitateencounters, Beck and Wood (2011) suggested that restorative justice requiresboth a change in perspective and new practices and forms of interaction.Restorative encounters tend to be framed around these questions: What hap-pened? Who was affected and how? What can be done or is needed forrepair? These questions are explored within one of these four practices:</p><p> Dialogue: A facilitated interaction, often between victims and offenders. Peacemaking circle: An interactional group process that occurs in a cir-cle and is used to end disputes, address conflicts and crime, fosterrelationships, and build community.</p><p> Conference: An interaction that brings together kinship networks andthe community to address a conflict; the FGC, described earlier, is oneexample.</p><p> Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC): An appointed commissionthat investigates and reports on a countrys or localitys history of massviolence and abuse.</p><p>Each of these practices includes common procedural elements, andall are based on values and principles. In terms of procedures, all of theprocesses involve a facilitated interaction. A facilitator prepares participantsthrough premeetings and organizes the logistics of the interaction. The actualencounter typically involves introductions, opening and closing rituals, anda statement about what has occurred. It often ends with the signing of anagreement or, in the case of a TRC, a report (Beck &amp; Wood, 2011; MacRae &amp;Zehr, 2004; Umbreit &amp; Greenwood, 2000). Leonard (2011) explained that fora practice to be restorative, it must be framed by values (as defined by thefundamental aspirations of the restorative justice movement) and principles(which are used to guide practice). Although restorative justice theorists andpractitioners have not developed an exhaustive list of agreed-upon values,some of the core values include: equality, a belief in the interconnectednessand individuality among people, and respect (Leonard, 2011; Pranis, Stuart,&amp; Wedge, 2003). Zehr (1990) argued that restorative justice principles suchas inclusivity, voluntary participation, and accessibility are necessary aspectsof respect, and are, therefore, important to any restorative justice practice.</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>McM</p><p>aste</p><p>r U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 08:</p><p>45 1</p><p>5 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>384 E. Beck</p><p>RESTORATIVE JUSTICE AND COMMUNITIES</p><p>This section explores four strategies that are rooted in restorative justice the-ory and processes that are used to support communities. The strategies arerestorative boards, community conferences, community restorative support,and TRCs. Each strategy can use restorative practices (dialogue, peacemakingcircles, conferences, and reconciliation commissions) to achieve its aims.Table 1 illustrates each strategy and examines each one from the perspectiveof the value that motivates it, the application of the strategy, the protocol andprocess used, the resolution sought by the encounter, an example of wherethe strategy is occurring, outcomes associated with the strategy, and a briefreview of the evaluation literature. So community practitioners can achievea fuller understanding of a practice, the primary criticism of the strategy isalso included.</p><p>Restorative Board</p><p>As indicated, one critical difference between the traditional criminal jus-tice system and restorative justice is the inclusion of the community as astakeholder. In early discussions, the restorative just...</p></li></ul>


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