Story Corp, from National Public Radio, had a story this week about a woman who has demonstrated the principles of restorative justice in a way that few of us could even begin to imagine.
“It begins with the gang-related murder of her son, Laramiun Byrd, and it extends from a conscious decision to forgive the killer to developing a loving relationship with him.
For people who champion Restorative Justice, this can only be a story of inspiration. Involving victims and offenders in restorative conferences early on might increase the likelihood of phenomenal outcomes like these. It is not an easy process, and not everyone in the justice system will even be willing to consider restorative options. But the story of Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel stands as a testimony to what is sometimes possible.”
From here along with a link to the radio program.
Not familiar with the term “Restorative Justice”? You might want to start here. The shorthand description of RJ is, as put by Wikipedia, a decision to focus less on the legal issues and more on the specific needs of the victim and the perpetrator. It’s not unlike the principles of reconciliation that were used by the South African Truth Commission as a tool to move that country forward after Apartheid came to an end.
Do you think this is realistic vision for Americans? If not for all Americans, how about us Episcopalians? What would RJ look like with in the church context?