learning from restorative justice

[As a strong believer in the Christian roots of Canada’s restorative justice movement, I was dismayed at the way Dalhouse University’s use of a restorative justice process was belittled and dismissed across various media. In their final report, this excerpt suggests that the public also has much to learn from this experience:]

This report also addresses the challenges that participants and facilitators faced in working together in a restorative process. These challenges included significant pressures from individuals and groups both outside and within the university community who advocated for a more punitive approach without an informed understanding of what the restorative process entailed. Both male and female members of the dentistry class reported increased stress due to public debate that was at times aggressive, intrusive and erroneous. Female participants ultimately felt compelled to ask the Dalhousie Student Union, among others, to stop speaking for them without ever speaking to them, while male participants received threats of harm to them and their families via social media. The overwhelming public scrutiny and attempts to influence the process compounded the harms to those most affected, including the women who filed the original complaint.

– from the executive summary of the “Report from the Restorative Justice Process at the Faculty of Dentistry” from Dalhousie University – and kudos to those with the perseverance and courage to go ahead with a restorative process in the face of criticism.

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