By Jenna Harper
This July, I was privileged to attend the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice (NACRJ) in Chicago. It was a large gathering of restorative justice practitioners from around the nation who work in diverse settings. It was a great opportunity for advanced learning, networking, and, for me, visiting my hometown!
Power and Postionality
An anti-oppression framework was infused in all presentations, and in the work presenters do in their own communities. One of the sessions, that was most impactful for my own frameworks and practices, was an examination of power amongst all involved in a restorative justice process. It’s crucial consider power positions and how we acknowledge and address differences in power during healing and accountability processes. This is especially true with sexual violence because the person who caused harm robs a survivor of power and control. In addition to examining those power dynamics, we also need to consider identities and positionality among facilitators and participants. By doing this, we can try to create equity in all restorative justice processes.
Programs highlighted at NACRJ work with youth, incarcerated people, survivors of harm, authors of harm, and more. I especially appreciated hearing from Eddie Glaude, who presented on racial justice. Check out his podcast: History is Us.
At NACRJ, we had opportunities to sit in circle with each other and explore topics including spirituality, identity, and much more. These circles all added to my knowledge of how complex issues impact restorative justice practices. I came back to Colorado with an increased knowledge of restorative justice, existing programming across the country, great memories, and valuable connections.
Bringing NACRJ Lessons back to CCASA
I’m eager to apply what I learned to CCASA’s work around using restorative justice to address sexual violence. If you’re interested in joining CCASA’S restorative justice listserv and/or attending bi-monthly virtual learning community meetings, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org