Restorative Conferencing applies Restorative Practices to specific instances of harm. If you or somebody you know experienced harm or caused harm, we will work with all involved to repair that harm and build or rebuild relationships to prevent more harm from happening in the future. If you would like to engage in a healing process to make things right, feel free to contact us using our referral form (right). We will reach out to you within two business days.
ECRJC offers a variety of restorative responses to harm to families and communities throughout Erie County
Family Group Conferencing
Restorative Pracitices in Schools
Restorative Justice Diversion within Courts
Each response is tailored to the specific needs of participants in each case, but much of the referral, pre-conferencing, and follow up process remains the same.
Participation in any of our services is voluntary. After the person or people who experienced harm and the person or people who caused harm have agreed to participate, a facilitator will contact each individual involved, including community members. These interviews are an important step to prepare for a conference, helping the facilitator understand the circumstances of the case, who should be involved in the conference, and how to maintain a balance of power among participants so the people who were harmed do not experience more harm during the conference. The facilitator also uses these calls to explain the conferencing process in detail.
During a conference, all participants will gather on Zoom or in person when safe, and will most likely use a circle format to discuss what happened. The participant(s) who caused harm explain the incident from their perspective, and come to understand the effects of their actions on those harmed.
Facilitators will ask the person who caused harm
“What were you thinking about at the time?”
“What have you thought about since?”
“Who has been affected by what you have done?”
“What do you think you need to do to make things right?”
Facilitators will then ask those who experienced harm
“What did you think when you realized what happened?”
“What impact has the incident had on you and others?”
“What has been the hardest thing for you?”
“What do you think needs to happen to make things right?”
Everybody in the circle discusses the responses to these questions (and the last in particular). When an agreement on how to best repair the harm is reached, the facilitator will write up a simple agreement and all in attendance sign (adapted from O’Connell, Wachtel, & Wachtel, 1999).
After a conference, the facilitator will follow up with participants, ensuring that all have the support they need to fulfill the agreement, repair the harm, build relationships, and heal. It may take more than one meeting to address a harm and come to an agreement about an action plan, and participants may need to meet again to adapt an agreement. Read "Restorative Conferencing with ECRJC" for a more detailed outline of our conferencing program.