The question “Who is impacted and how?" exercises the CST principle of the Option for/with the Poor and Vulnerable.
The option for/with poor and vulnerable people calls us to prioritize those who are marginalized by violence, crime, incarceration, and systemic oppression.
By asking the question “Who has been impacted and how?” restorative justice puts the experiences and voices of those most impacted at the center of the process.
When crime has occurred, this means giving the victim(s) a meaningful voice in the outcome and calling on the person(s) who caused harm to make amends for the damage they caused.
In the spirit of subsidiarity, restorative practices create opportunities for those closest to the situation to participate in the decisions that will affect them.
Reflecting on Impacts
A key way to more deeply understand the impacts of harm or injustice is through intentional conversations with those most affected by them. Create time to talk with these individuals or groups. Be prepared to enter these conversations in a posture of learning and curiosity, rather than “fixing.”
A few suggested entry points include:
Open with an invitation to share stories. Offer a bit of background about yourself and why you reached out, then invite: “Tell me about yourself/your community? How did you become concerned about this harm/injustice?”
“What are some of the needs that you/your community experience because of this harm/injustice? What might help to meet those needs/repair the harm?”
“How might faith communities be of support?”
Offer a brief description of the restorative engagement you are considering and ask: “Are you/your community interested in being involved?”
“Who else do you recommend talking with?”
Reflecting on Motivations
Early in the process, it is important that individuals and the group have an honest understanding of their own motivations, experiences, and identities relative to the issue(s) at hand. Spend time praying, journaling, or sharing (possibly in circle) about the following questions.
What life experiences shape my personal motivations to be involved with restorative justice? What is a relationship or experience that shaped my understanding of harm or justice?
Am I, or are members of my group, directly or closely impacted persons? How does this influence us?
What privileges do I benefit from? What may be biases or blind spots that I/we have because of those privileges?
What needs for healing do I/we need to address among ourselves in order to meaningfully engage?
Building a Core Team
Throughout the process, you will likely collaborate with a number of other ministry or community partners. It is also good to have a core ministry team that is representative of those impacted.
Remember to allow space for the Spirit to move as you listen to, learn from, and include these individuals and groups in your process.
Some questions for your group to ask itself include:
Who needs to be involved and how will they be invited?
Who might we not usually work with that could be invited?
How will we ensure that traditionally marginalized voices/perspectives are not only invited but meaningfully integrated?