A restorative group conference is a face-to-face encounter between a victim or victims, the offender(s), individuals who support each of them, and others who affected by the incident.Led by a trained facilitator, this encounter seeks to identify, repair, and prevent harm based in restorative justice values including meaningful accountability.
Participation of the victim is completely voluntary. Participation of the offender is based upon their willingness and readiness.
Restorative group conferences are incident-based, initiated in response to a crime or a dispute, and behavior-based, making a clear distinction between the harmful act and the actor.
Conferences focus on empowering the participants, looking at underlying causes and making referrals. Decisions are consensus-based and end in an agreement with which all participants can live.
Conferences are appropriate for use with adults or juveniles, and can be used at any point in the justice system process or at any point in a person’s life.
Typical Steps in the Process:
1. Initial contact with offender(s) to assess their willingness and appropriateness to participate and to give information with which to decide about participation. Typically, this is two steps; a phone call followed by a face-to-face visit by the facilitator(s) with the offender and their support person(s).
2. Initial contact with victim(s) to determine their willingness to participate and to share information about the process. This also typically involves two steps; a phone call followed by a face-to-face visit with the victim and their support person(s).
3. Identification, recruitment, and preparation of other supporters for each of the primary participants.
4. Identification, recruitment, and preparation of other persons who have a stake in the incident.
5. Conducting the conference, potentially move participants toward an agreement if appropriate.
6. Appropriate follow up. Either monitoring the progress toward the completion of the agreement, completing documentation for the host or referral agency, or reporting to the court or another legal entity.