Restorative Conferencing is a very structured process where a highly trained neutral third party facilitates a meeting between a victim and offender (typically). The victim or the harmed may participate voluntarily as they must not be re-traumatized by the process, but the offender must participate and be willing to be accountable for the harm they created.
Unlike the criminal justice process, where a prosecutor or another attorney becomes the voice of those involved, the Harmed individual has an active voice in how the offender’s punishment and healing actions can be determined and defined. The offender has an active voice in what actions and punishments may be created. These participants are supported by those closest to them and to the incident. The process creates a community approach to healing the harm that was created by the event. The punishments and healing actions can be quite flexible and creative, but can also be tied directly to local criminal codes. This process is very successful with juvenile offenders and victims.
This process is highly structured and detailed. Everyone who is identified as a stakeholder or an invited participant to any session is given an initial meeting with the facilitator(s). This meeting shares the process, what questions will be asked, who has been invited to participate, what roles the participants will play along with location, date and time. In a Restorative Conference initial meeting, there are 5 questions asked. Each participant has a chance to respond to each question, and the session is not closed until all participants have answered each question. The answers are documented and are used as the foundation of the healing actions and any punishments that may be crafted. Follow up meetings may be held, with separate structured questions used.