Next Just Conversation:
Maya Schenwar, Author of Locked Down, Locked Out. April 20, 7PM, Space Gallery in Portland. Join us!
A series of events that advance the use of justice practices
that heal, restore and transform individuals and communities.
Why Just Conversations?
We rarely think about justice until someone we know becomes involved in the justice system. Our tendency is to think of a justice system comprised of police officers, lawyers and prosecutors, courthouses, jails and prisons (the “usual suspects”).
But justice impacts each of us: When we are harmed – whether through a criminal act or an act of wrongdoing that does not rise to the level of criminality - relationships are weakened or broken. People who commit acts of wrongdoing are punished – in courts, schools and work places. Alienation often results, followed by separation from the community. In workplaces and schools, this results in lateral violence (gossip, bullying, broken confidences, social exclusion).
We have researched the restorative justice movement nationally and internationally and have learned that one of the shortcomings of the field has been to insulate the movement from the broader community. We believe restorative justice practices have not realized their full potential because we have not made justice real to people beyond those who have been affected by the criminal justice system. We cannot expect to meet our mission of promoting widespread cultural and systemic shift in how Mainers approach wrongdoing unless we encourage understanding of its current impact.
What is a Just Conversation?
We need to find ways to address harm in different ways. We believe the way to begin to do this is through discourse; by engaging voices beyond the “usual suspects” in deep conversation about justice and subsequently, identifying ways to empower these individuals to get involved in the restorative justice movement.
Our strategy for engaging these communities is through the mobilization of Affinity Groups - lawyers, human resource directors, public housing managers, medical professionals - to discuss and model the use of restorative dialogue and tools in nontraditional settings. It is still crucial to our success to work with churches, prisons and the courts, but without having broader JUST Conversations with people beyond the usual suspects, our progress to spread restorative justice practices will be slow, insular and ultimately, unsustainable.
To learn more or be included on our mailing list for future JUST Conversations, contact Jen Goldman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Just Conversation with Kay Pranis, Sept. 2014