Restorative Justice

This is Mary – I am NOT good at communicating my ideas, so please forgive me if this is not very clear – I will try to get my thoughts across on this concept.

We were involved last Monday, 9/29/08 in a meeting involving Shane McGee, and a lawyer who specializes in mediating between victims and offenders, in order to promote Restorative Justice. It was a very enlightening meeting.

Nancy and I, and some other family members, are all exploring this concept of Restorative Justice, or sometimes called “restorative practices”. I’m only beginning to learn what this means, and I am trying to specifically learn what it means in my own life, most notably in relation to what happened to Pat, and what “punishment” the driver who hit and killed him should get. And not only that there should be consequences for what he did, but how can he attempt to repair some of the pain he caused? And additionally, what role can we play in helping to repair this pain for ourselves and for others too?

This is a concept that appears to be fairly foreign in our justice system. Some other cultures have used these practices more than we have. From the little research I have done so far, I have found that restorative practices focuses on repairing the harm done to people and relationships, rather than having the focus on punishing the offender.

I like this quote from the site http://www.iirp.org/whatisrp.php on Restorative Practices:

The fundamental unifying hypothesis of restorative practices is disarmingly simple: that human beings are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes in their behavior when those in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.

We want more than anything to see some GOOD come out of this senseless tragedy of losing our beloved Patrick. Pat lived for reaching out to and helping others. He was a natural teacher and advocated with his own children, to work with each other.

We want some healing to come about, and started out by meeting with Shane McGee last week. He had a chance to hear from all of us, what his hitting and killing Pat has done to us. He learned what a wonderful person the world is now missing. We also heard from Shane. He is a very quiet person, and it was difficult for him, but we did see evidence of the sorrow and remorse that he is feeling. This helps to know that he does think about, and feel badly about, what he did.

I am interested in seeing Shane turn his life around and focus on doing good, to make an honest attempt at replacing the good he took out of this world when he hit Pat. I am also interested in being an active participant in this process.

A couple of important things came out of this meeting  Рwe felt that we have begun on our journey of healing, and Shane has told us that he promises that he will do good in his life, he will strive to add some good to this world, and that is what we hope for.  This meeting was very worthwhile and helpful to us.

We are very interested in knowing the viewpoints of others, and in getting your input on this issue. Please respond to this post and share your thoughts. We invite anyone to join in this discussion.

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  1. Pam Lawrence

    You know that feeling of standing behind all the people jumping off the high dive? Looking down and seeing how they are enjoying the water, knowing that they did it and it worked out just fine, but you’re scared.

    That’s how I feel concerning RJ. I look at it and know it will work well and that it is the best option…but I’m scared. How wonderful it will be to know that Shane made promises and then kept them…but I’m scared.

    The process should work perfectly. Only the Sawyer family knows what is best for them, but what an amazing choice they have that could change their future.

    I hope this is the perfect solution…but I am scared.

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