– SISTER JUDI MORIN ssa –
For some years, I have wanted to be more concretely involved in restorative justice. So I began learning and then facilitating groups in Nonviolent Communication (NVC), which I see as a language of restorative justice.
NVC is a needs based communication that translates blame and judgment and shoulds into feelings, needs and requests.
I really enjoy designing exercises for the facilitation of NVC. Thinking that these exercises would be helpful to others, I asked Lucy Leu and Raj Gill to work with me to publish exercises for facilitators to use in sharing NVC. Four years later, the NVC Toolkit For Facilitators was published and is now used in more than 40 countries. I still facilitate some groups or individuals and guide them towards using NVC to support their happiness.
Since retiring from 30 years of prison chaplaincy, I have been able to spend more time working with restorative justice. Last winter after having completed a superb training component, I am now able to work on cases as a mentor or facilitator.
This is how it works. Someone who has committed a crime and admitted it may be diverted from the courts to restorative justice. He or she works with a mentor to prepare for a facilitated meeting with the person(s) affected by the crime. There, the person(s) affected by the crime is given a forum through which they communicate to the person responsible for the crime how it affected them. They can also ask questions of the responsible person to help gain some understanding as to why the crime happened. Then the two, with the help of the facilitators, name concrete ways in which the responsible person will make some reparation for the harm done as well as address any underlying causes of crime. When both parties agree, an agreement is signed and the mentor supports the responsible party in fulfilling the terms of the agreement. This process meets the needs of the victim of the crime in a more satisfying way than simple punishment does. For example, the victim is able to share how the crime affected them and continues to affect them. It gives the person(s) affected by the crime the opportunity to ask questions so they can understand why the crime was committed and “why me?. In addition, the affected person has a say as to how the responsible person will make amends for his/her actions and to how they might address the factors that led to the crime. This gives the affected person some power. It also supports the person responsible for the crime by addressing the factors in their life which resulted in the crime and in helping to make changes in their lifestyle; hopefully lessening the likelihood of their creating future crime.
I find this work very satisfying and a good balance with the work of the Provincial Council.