Restorative justice brings together offenders and their victims, and includes family members and other persons who are impacted by the crime, in a powerful encounter called a "restorative conference." In the conference information is shared, questions are asked and answered, and understanding established. Empathy awakens in these moments, but also with crime victims. Victims may shift from imaging that the young person is a dangerous thug to realizing that instead he is simply a young human being who needs more guidance from community. As victims come to this realization, the opportunity for forgiveness and healing comes forward. Restorative conferences conclude with the participants reaching an agreement about what can be done to make things right (or as right as possible). Often unique, creative, and surprising ways of repairing the farm are developed.
Accepted to the Portfolio: August 2011