Restorative Justice

by Heather Lavelle

One thing that has occurred to me throughout this difficult time in our country is that there may be room for a restorative justice approach when it comes to resolving conflict in our communities. The police were called when George Floyd was accused of passing a counterfeit $20 bill. George did nothing violent, but an utra-militarized police unit was called who introduced violence into the situation. Sadly, George lost his life for something that I believe never required police intervention in the first place. Restorative justice could create an alternative to policing to resolve nonviolent community concerns. The de-funding of police could go hand in hand with the creation of a community based group consisting of concerned members of the community from a variety of backgrounds who will bring their unique perspectives to conflict situations, like the one between George Floyd and the store owner. A series of circles where all participants opt in to participate are presented as an alternative to incarceration or the involvement of the criminal justice system. A paid group of mediators would facilitate the circles and ensure participation. Nonviolent situations deserve nonviolent solutions. The circles would delve into all the issues that created the situation in the first place and work together to come up with solutions where all participant’s voices are heard. It’s an idea worth pursuing. What we do now clearly does not work and we need to seek alternative solutions. The good thing about everything that’s going on is maybe people will actually be receptive to ideas of how to implement meaningful change.

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