A restorative conference is a structured meeting between offenders, victims and both parties’ family and friends, in which they deal with the consequences of the crime or wrongdoing and decide how best to repair the harm. Neither a counseling nor a mediation process, conferencing is a victim-sensitive, straightforward problem-solving method that demonstrates how citizens can resolve their own problems when provided with a constructive forum to do so (O’Connell, Wachtel, & Wachtel, 1999).
Conferences provide victims and others with an opportunity to confront the offender, express their feelings, ask questions and have a say in the outcome. Offenders hear firsthand how their behavior has affected people. Offenders may choose to participate in a conference and begin to repair the harm they have caused by apologizing, making amends and agreeing to financial restitution or personal or community service work. Conferences hold offenders accountable while providing them with an opportunity to discard the “offender” label and be reintegrated into their community, school or workplace (Morris & Maxwell, 2001).
To request assistance with a Restorative Conference, or for information on Restorative Conference training please contact Dr. Mariana.Gomez@sweetwaterschools.org.