Restorative Justice

Our traditional form of justice is about punishing the wrong doer. The state largely decides the end of the story.

Restorative Justice is a set of principles that have the aim of repairing harm, putting things right and healing relationships. It involves giving a voice to everyone involved, allowing their stories to be heard. Those involved create their own ending.

  “The goal of every storyteller consists of fostering in the child, whatever cost, compassion and humanness, this miraculous ability of man to be disturbed by another’s misfortune, to feel joy about another being’s happiness, to experience another’s fate as your own.” (Korney Chukovsky)

The ultimate aim of restorative justice is one of forgiveness and healing, the fostering of compassion.  By setting up safe spaces for the offender (or person who has caused harm to another) and victim (person harmed by another) to hear each others stories there is the possibility that some kind of understanding or empathy may be reached, the damage can be put right and through receiving appropriate reparation, the harm done to the victim can be redressed. By making good the damage caused, the offender can be reconciled with the victim and reintegrated back into his/her social and familial networks; and through such reconciliation and reintegration, community harmony can be restored.

The goals of storytelling and restorative justice seem to have some remarkable similarities.  But how can we as storytellers foster compassion in our listeners and tell stories which challenge our audiences to question their views of justice and to help rebuild our broken communities?

How can we as tellers be as storytellers were in olden times – subversive, challenging and giving voice to the voiceless? What stories do we hear and tell of justice in our lives and our communities.  When is it just ‘not fair’?   Why does it need re-storying and how can we as storytellers help to create change by telling a story in the way it needs to be told.  How can we tell our stories in a way that helps to prepare people to think differently about justice and fairness?

“I have yet to discover a culture which does not have some deep seated restorative traditions.” Braithwaite

There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not use stories.”  Ursula K.LeGuinn

Read about an example of a restorative project I was involved in Wymott Prison in 2002. (an article from the Guardian)

I would like to gather stories that have elements of justice and fairness or unfairness to tell to young people who offend or are at risk of offending. It would be great if anyone could send me a story, or even two!