Merriam-Webster says “An obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.” Restorative Justice teaches us that accounting for our actions can be a complex matter, including recognizing our conscious choices, trauma-induced triggers and unconscious actions, both from the traumas of our individual lives, and the collective traumas suffered from systemic oppressions. None of this is an excuse for our actions, but behavior we need to explore in order to take responsibility for the harm and take steps towards healing.
Charity or Savior model
A mentality or framework in which a person or organization tries to solve a problem without acknowledging the systemic and structural conditions underpinning that issue. For example, feeding the homeless while telling them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps; this does not consider the structural conditions that led to that person becoming homeless. Without acknowledging the structural conditions that lead to societal issues, these issues do not change or get solved.
Having a “charity or savior” mentality, consciously or subconsciously, means believing one is better than those one is attempting to help. This drives the motivation to “give back” rather than having genuine desire to change conditions, shift power, or confront one’s own privilege. A person or organization with a “charity or savior model” often has very little knowledge of a particular place or issue, yet tries to solve a local problem that they lack a genuine connection to.
As a legal term, the duty to refrain from sharing information with others, except with the express consent of the person who provided said information. There are rules and regulations which place restrictions on the circumstances in which a professional, such as an attorney, may divulge information about a client, and other situations may be deemed confidential by the use of a contract.
In the restorative justice process, facilitators maintain strict confidentiality as it pertains to all participants. Throughout the process, all participants also commit to keeping everything confidential. Legal documents, such as the MOU described elsewhere in this toolkit, are necessary for confidentiality to be protected in legal proceedings.
Source: Legal Dictionary
“The culture of mass criminalization is one in which aggressive policing and incarceration are our default tools for dealing with a wide array of social problems that can and should be solved by other means. These punitive approaches far exceed what is necessary to maintain public safety and primarily target poor people and people of color.”
Source: Drug Policy Alliance
Dependency-delinquency or Crossover youth
Youth who are at risk of, or are fluctuating between, the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
Rather than trying to remain neutral (which is not possible) or partial (which can lead to bias), facilitators must care equally for all participants, regardless of their role. Everyone should leave an RCC with their dignity, humanity, and life force intact, and should feel that a facilitator is equally invested in this outcome for all participants.
In the mainstream research community, evidence-based practice refers to programs, curricula, or practices that have been proven with hard data to have tangible and replicable benefits using rigorous research. Accepted research methods are generally randomized-control trials, quasi-experimentation, or meta-analyses.
It is important to note that there are indigenous, cultural, and community-based practices that people know are effective, but are not considered “evidence-based” by the mainstream research community because of the lack of data and findings backing them.
Source: Vera Institute of Justice
The person who plans, guides, and manages the RJD process to ensure that the group’s objectives are met effectively, with active participation and collective buy-in from everyone involved. They help to set the tone and environment for circles and RCCs to take place such that everyone feels ready, safe, supported, and heard. They also guide the conference toward plan creation and in some instances will support the responsible youth during plan completion. Facilitators may also support participants to connect to wraparound services as needed.
The aftermath and legacy of traumas inflicted on whole groups of people. “Aftermath describes political and economic structures, while legacy refers to cultural ideas, beliefs, and prejudices. Legacy and aftermath work together to help maintain detrimental cultural norms that result in, and sustain, violence.”
For all time; forever
Intersection and Intersectionality
Intersectionality is a term coined by the Black feminist scholar and critical race theorist, Kimberlé Crenshaw, who says, “intersectionality is a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects.”
The various forms of social stratification, such as class, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, creed, disability, and gender do not exist separately from each other but are woven together. This woven experience can compound an individual’s experiences of marginalization, as well as privilege. So while people may have a shared identity, the way their identities intersect make that shared identity markedly different. For example, a white woman’s experience of sexism will be very different than a Black woman’s, given that her experience is compounded by racism.
Source: Kimberlé Crenshaw
A non-gendered way of referring to people in place of the terms “Latina” or “Latino.” It moves beyond terms like “Latino/a” and “Latin@,” which still reinforce a gender binary. Folks who identify as Latinx may be doing so because they don’t identify within the binary of Latino/Latina or male/female. The description has also spread to other communities, with Chicano being recast as Chicanx and Filipina as Filipinx.
The “x” also can be read as a political statement, similar to Malcolm X and other members of the Nation of Islam, who use “X” as a way to reject the systems in which many Black Americans ended up with the last names of those who owned their ancestors through slavery.
An acronym used as an umbrella term for lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, and gender non-conforming people. These are distinct and sometimes overlapping identities with which people might self-identify, not labels anyone should assume about someone.
Rooting one’s actions and intentions in the liberation of all oppressed people. Liberation is both the undoing of the effects and the elimination of the causes of social oppression, and the outcome after these have been accomplished.
Source: Unlearning Racism
The wisdom a person gains from having the first-hand experience of living as a member of an oppressed or marginalized group. For example, a formerly incarcerated person is someone with lived experience of the criminal legal system and its impacts.
Instead of reducing the number of youth formally processed through the juvenile justice system, “‘net-widening’ policies actually subject more youths to formal justice system intervention… The implications of net-widening are serious because the process results in the diversion of resources from youth most in need of intervention to youths who may require no intervention. This process depletes the system’s resources and impairs its ability to properly intervene with appropriate youth. Instead of improving public safety, these early intervention and prevention strategies promote net-widening by shifting resources from youth most in need to youth least in need.”
“An important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way.” RJD is meant to create a paradigm shift away from punitive responses to harm to those that focus on healing harms and rebuilding relationships.
Power and privilege
“Power is unequally distributed…in society; some individuals or groups wield greater power than others, thereby allowing them greater access and control over resources. Wealth, whiteness, citizenship, patriarchy, heterosexism, and education are a few key social mechanisms through which power operates.”
Privilege is “unearned social power accorded by the formal and informal institutions of society to ALL members of a dominant group (e.g. white privilege, male privilege, etc.). Privilege is usually invisible to those who have it because we’re taught not to see it, but nevertheless it puts them at an advantage over those who do not have it.”
These concepts have roots in W.E.B. DuBois’ work on “psychological wage” and white people’s perception of superiority over Black people and people of color.
Power with or Power over
Terms originally coined by Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933), “power over” and “power with” are two of four “expressions of power.” “Power with” is used in the context of building collective strength. In the “power over” expression, “power is seen as a win-lose kind of relationship. Having power involves taking it from someone else, and then, using it to dominate and prevent others from gaining it.”
“Power to” and “power within” are the other two expressions of power. Learning to see and understand relations of power is vital to organizing for progressive social change.
Any point in the legal system process before appearing before a court and receiving a charge. Pre-charge diversion occurs prior to a young person going to court and being charged with an offense, in order to reduce legal system contact and improve outcomes for youth by holistically identifying and addressing youth needs and providing opportunities for non-punitive accountability.
Pre-charge diversion for youth may occur at (a) the point of arrest or citation by law enforcement— either before or after the arrest or citation is recorded; (b) after referral to probation (but before a probation officer is assigned); or (c) after referral to the district attorney.
In some jurisdictions, people refer to this as “pre-filing.” However, the term pre-filing may or may not include formal or informal probation. For purposes of this toolkit, we are discussing forms of diversion which do not involve the assignment of probation supervision, whether formally or informally.
“The proactive reinforcement of policies, practices, attitudes and actions that produce equitable power, access, opportunities, treatment, impacts and outcomes for all… A key indicator of racial justice is equality in the impacts and outcome across race.”
Source: Uprooting Racism
In the words of Bryan Stevenson, “each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” Using the terms “responsible youth” or “young person” instead of “perpetrator” or “offender,” acknowledges that we are all human. We all deserve for our humanity to be the first thing recognized about us. We shouldn’t be defined by our actions when we have all done or experienced harm. We want to allow for change and growth, not define someone by a static event that happened.
Responsible youth acknowledges the transformative impact of a restorative justice process can have. A young person enters the process as responsible for the harm and afterwards becomes responsible to themselves and their community. Also, see definition for “survivor or person harmed.”
“A status offense is an action that is prohibited only to a certain class of people, and most often applied only to offenses committed by minors.” Crimes only youth can be charged with include truancy, curfew, running away, possession of alcohol. RJD is not suitable for typical status offenses because this contributes to net-widening. Also, see definition for net-widening.
Strengths-based is the opposite of how the current criminal legal system and US society as a whole operates, treating people as bad if they’ve done something harmful.
Remember the words of Bryan Stevenson, “each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” The RJD process is intended to affirm people and focus on what is right with a person, instead of what is wrong with them or the harm they experienced. One should approach interactions with RJD participants (or any person, for that matter) from a perspective of getting to know them, their skills, or qualities they’re proud of – i.e. their strengths. The response to the harm should uplift those strengths.
Nobody is bad, nor can they become bad by any actions. It is possible and necessary to hold someone fully accountable without losing sight of their strengths, assets, and humanity.
Survivor or person harmed
In the words of Bryan Stevenson, “each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” We add that each of us is also more than the worst things that have ever happened to us. Using the terms “person harmed” or “survivor” instead of “victim” acknowledges that we are all human. We all deserve for our humanity to be the first thing recognized about us. We shouldn’t be defined by our actions when we have all done or experienced harm. We want to allow for change and growth, not define someone by a static event that happened.
The term “victim” can also be stigmatizing. One shouldn’t assume a person feels victimized by what happened to them. Instead, we use “survivor” or “person harmed” when referring to someone who has experienced harm to approach the experience of harm from a strengths-based perspective. That said, it is important to not make assumptions about a person’s experience and how they identify; some people identify as a victim, others identify as survivor or crime survivor, and others still may not identify as either. Note, also, that some people may feel like what they have suffered is being downplayed by the idea that they have been “harmed,” especially when the situation involved violence. The best way to be respectful is to ask for their preference, with care to not make them feel labeled or further stigmatized. Also see definition for “responsible youth.”
System partners are people or agencies within the government that partner with community-based organizations to implement an RJD program. These include, but are not limited to, district attorney’s offices, departments of probation, police departments, or judges. In the context of RJD, there are primary, secondary, and tertiary system partners depending on their authority in relation to the program.
“Trauma-informed care means [engaging with] a whole person, taking into account past trauma, and the resulting coping mechanisms, when attempting to understand behaviors and [support] the person. It involves four key elements: (1) realizing the prevalence of trauma; (2) recognizing how trauma affects all individuals involved with the program, organization, or system, including its own workforce; (3) responding by putting this knowledge into practice; and (4) resisting retraumatization.”