Restorative Justice Responses to Conflict & Crime

Restorative Approaches to Conflict
Restorative approaches to conflict help people find a way out of conflict as they untangle problems and find solutions that really work for them.

In order to help neighbors or others who disagree, we listen to individual concerns, act as a go-between, create productive and comfortable ways for people to come together and talk -- and we follow through until everyone agrees that the matter is settled.

Core Members Making Amends By Removing Graftiti
Restorative Approaches to Crime 
Restorative approaches to crime view wrongdoing in terms of harm to people, damage to relationships, and disruption of peace in the community. The restorative approach helps those who commit crimes hold themselves accountable for their actions, gives victims of crime a voice in the process, and provides an opportunity for everyone involved to decide how to best repair the harm and prevent future occurrences.

Restorative justice programs allow for direct community involvement in the resolution of criminal offenses through participation in restorative panels, conferences and/or circles. People directly affected by a crime have an opportunity to participate in a justice process where they can articulate their needs, ask questions, seek restorative actions and receive support from their community. Those responsible for a crime can learn about the harm, make amends, and build a positive connection with their community.

A person is typically referred to the MCJC for restorative justice by someone from a school or from the criminal justice system (the police, the State’s Attorney, or the Court). Structured dialogue invites affected parties to define the harm and ask for what they need. It leads to accountability and amends-making by the person who committed the offense.
A person may be referred to complete a restorative justice program at different points in the justice system:  
Making Amends
All people referred to the MCJC for a restorative process work with the MCJC's volunteers and victims to better understand the harm they caused, make amends to victims, establish a positive connection with their community, and develop ways to keep from reoffending. The person who committed an offense is expected to:
  • Admit wrongdoing and talk about it
  • Learn about the effects of the crime on others
  • Work with others to design and carry out a plan to make amends and make better choices in the future
Victims of Crime
Those who have been affected by a crime are offered ways to participate according to their needs and preferences. They may attend a restorative conference, participate in a Restorative Justice Panel meeting or engage in a facilitated dialogue with the person who offended. The victims of a crime are given the opportunity to talk about how they were affected, ask questions, and help decide what the person who offended should do that will make them feel that the matter is settled.

People affected by an offense are invited to participate directly or indirectly to
  • Be heard and supported by MCJC staff and community volunteers
  • Have a say about what will make things better
  • Seek answers to questions, such as "Why did you choose my car to vandalize?" or "Did you break into my camp in the past?"
  • Talk about what happened and how they were harmed
      Ways to Make Amends
      Typically, the person who offended will be expected to complete one or more of the following activities within a 60 to 90 day period:
      • Attend a Safe Driving Class where they learn about the impact of distracted and impaired driving on others
      • Contribute positively to the community through volunteering
      • Participate in a conflict education program, such as Insights into Conflict
      • Participate in mediation, if appropriate
      • Pay restitution
      • Write letters of explanation and apology.