Restorative Systems: Justice and Community Safety Reimagined

During this learning event you will begin to develop the experience and skills needed to support organizations and communities in developing their own restorative systems.

We strongly recommend that participants from neighborhood associations, community based organizations and other groups seeking to reform the justice system consider participating.  If possible we recommend that two people from your group attend, to increase your capacity to implement the learning.  We will:

  • Identify the five preconditions to setting up a restorativesystem
  • Learn the key components of a conscious, systemic response to conflict that enables community members to identify and solve problems for themselves
  • Develop a practical structureand set of agreements that groups/ communities can develop to learn from and transform conflict that strengthens relationships and enhances community accountability
  • Discover the benefits of a restorative structure and see how those benefits relate to enhanced community connection, safety, and social cohesion

This event will consist of three (3) two and a half (2 ½) hour sessions. The sessions will be interactive with considerable time for practical learning and the integration of learning.

This work was originally developed in the favelas in Brazil by Dominic Barter and colleagues, and has been used by communities in a variety of settings on five continents. (See below for more about the framework behind this approach)

This event is a collaboration between Partners in Restorative Initiatives (www.piri.org) and the Gandhi Institute. The event is grant-funded and free. We will ask for a contribution from participants at the end to help fund the next round of these experiences for others.


More on Restorative Systems:

What is justice? How do we achieve it? In this time of the Black Lives Matter movement and its demand for racial equity; police caused violence and killings; nightly protests and increasing polarization these questions become even more urgent and vital.  Does it mean only retribution and punishment? Or is what we are seeking building safer, more equitable communities where harm in all it forms and at its various levels can be addressed?


Our current justice system – with its strategies of punishment, policing, and prison – has not made our communities safer nor improved their well-being. As we have seen, more training or different policies is not effective. This is because crime and other forms of social harms that happen in our communities are not individual problems but systemic problems. We need to reimagine what justice means.


A Restorative approach brings a justice that seeks to transform broken lives, relationships and communities; it emphasizes bringing together everyone affected by harms to address needs and responsibilities, and to heal the harm to relationships and community. Thus it is inherently focused on systems.


A Restorative system is a dynamic set of agreements that a community makes to guide them in working with conflict, harms, and other issues of community safety. A Restorative System empowers a community to design structures and processes that work with conflict and community safety issues in ways that are based on their values, their needs, their preferred ways of working. The whole process is designed by the community, run by the community, and owned by the community. It supports communities in addressing all forms of harm, not just the individual acts but as systemic problems. In fact the very act of establishing a restorative system in a community is an act of systems change.   And it can also be a powerful compliment to alternative policing strategies and community safety initiatives.


Duke Bio:

Facilitator Duke Duchscherer is a Certified Trainer with the International Center for Nonviolent Communication and is a past member of the Board of Directors for the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence.  He has facilitated training in Restorative Circles and Nonviolent Communication around the world with a depth and breadth of peoples and communities from small villages at the grassroots to governmental leaders at the United Nations on five continents.

Some of this work has included supporting the transformation of active conflicts such as leading a series of restorative dialogues between the Ukrainian army and the pro- Russian community where they reside near the warfront in Ukraine; or facilitating dialogue between state-level government officials, minority/indigenous groups, and those who have been directly harmed by strikes, protests, and border closings due to the promulgation of the new Nepal constitution.  Duke has also worked extensively in the area of reconciliation leading numerous dialogues such as one between former Shining Path & MRTA rebels, former military, civil society leaders, and those directly harmed during the ‘time of violence’ in Peru; or between Rwandan genocide survivors and recently released prisoners who killed their families. (see the documentary In The Eyes of the Good and the website www.togetherwethrive.world for examples of Duke’s work).

We are thankful to the Wilson Foundation for sponsoring these two community training opportunities.