I am honored to have been accepted to join the International Community of Restorative Researchers, joining so many people who work in this arena.
As a long time practitioner of Restorative Justice for Juveniles, I bring a "hand-on" straight from the "field" perspective which can enhance and be enhanced by those engaged in the research that is so needed to make Restorative Justice visible as a viable option in our legal system. I am happy to say that the District Attorney's Office and the Public Defender's Office often recommend Restorative Justice as part of their Conditions of Release, after trials.
Restorative Justice is an effective approach that offers an opportunity for transformation in juvenile offenders, has the potential for bring resolution and "healing" to identified victims of acts delinquency and has proven to significantly increase victim satisfaction while reducing recidivism among the youth who engage in Restorative Justice processes.
Over the past 10 years in Taos County, New Mexico, USA, we've seen less than 5% of the engaged youth commit another delinquent act, and have used Restorative Justice for vehicular manslaughter, theft, breaking and entering, fights in schools and in the community, vandalism, bullying and even with the father of a boy who was killed, and the young man who shot and killed him.
Restorative Justice can strengthen community, be a first step in rebuilding a life, strengthen family relationships and return youth to a sense of "belonging" to community so they can grow into contributing members of our towns and cities. Its not a "soft" approach but an approach that calls for Accountability on the part of the youth offender, accountability...not just punishment.