As a yoga studio owner, it’s likely you have a deep sense of community and strive to give back to those in need. Some studios do so by hosting fundraisers, while others offer donation classes to specific communities.
Betsy Langton, the founder and CEO of Bar None Foods LLC, also strives to give back, specifically through a concept called Restorative Justice. As a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Langton learned about the concept of Restorative Justice when she worked in a women’s medium security prison in Oregon. The experience was life changing.
Here, she writes about what Restorative Justice is, and why it’s an important concept for those looking to give back to be aware of.
Restorative Justice seeks to repair the harm caused by crime. It can be a way to make amends with oneself and with others. It’s not about asking for forgiveness, nor is it dependent on a specific outcome. It sees crime as the outcome of the breakdown of both society and human relationships. The goal is to bring the community together to understand the sequence of events that led the offender to commit the crime, and for the offender to understand and take accountability for the effects the crime had on the victim.
The focus of the current system is on punishment; leaving the offender and the victim locked into their roles. From the Restorative Justice perspective, the focus changes to one of healing. This includes the awareness of class, race and the excessive use of incarceration. This approach assumes that the people affected by the crime, both victims and offenders, can benefit from the opportunity to be actively involved in the resolution.
In other words, the focus of Restorative Justice is to treat both the offender and the victim with respect and to work towards mutual integration back into society. The goal is to draw on the strengths of both parties rather than focusing on the deficits.
A short story of Restorative Justice in action:
In an inner city neighborhood, several teenager boys decided to paint graffiti on an elderly woman’s garage door. When the woman awakened and saw the damage she reached out to her community. Everyone felt vulnerable and no longer safe. When apprehended, the young men agreed to work with a Restorative Justice facilitator instead of going in to detention.
All members of the community were involved, including the young men’s parents and their school instructors. The young men heard from everyone what it felt like to feel unsafe, to be disrespected and to have one’s property defaced.
With the help of the community, the offenders decided they would repaint the woman’s garage door and offer to do work around her house for the coming year in an effort to make amends. In this way, the people came together to find ways to engage, communicate and to expand their community.
In summary, Restorative Justice underscores the importance of working with offenders and their victims in a way that promotes healing and reconciliation.
Betsy Langton is the founder and CEO of Bar None Foods LLC. For more information on Restorative Justice or Bar None Foods, call 503.577.3908 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.