respect for the dignity of each person involved in the process,
and construction of social harmony by restoring the victim and
any other offended person, the juvenile offender and the community at large. Through restorative processes, the participants
are encouraged to come to understand the origins, causes and
consequences of their conflict, and to try to repair any damage
done to individuals and the broader community.
EXAMPLE OF A SUCCESSFUL CASE
INVOLVING ADOLESCENT OFFENDERS
Many people still do not believe that restorative justice
works, but we who are directly involved in operating the system are witnesses to the positive impacts on young people
who participate actively in restorative processes. An example of one such process follows.
A juvenile justice judge recommended that two young male
offenders participate in a restorative process. The youths,
accused of robbery, were 15 and 16 years old, and they had
no prior criminal history. Their victims were two elderly people who ran a small business out of their home. All parties
agreed to a restorative meeting.
The two victims began the meeting by demanding a large
payment to remedy the damage. As the process developed,
it became apparent that the victims were also very fearful.
They had not slept at their home during the six months that
followed the robbery because they feared they were being
watched and would be robbed again. In a traditional case
involving juvenile offenders, a judge likely would have con-
victed the two offenders and required them and their parents
to pay for the damage done. This result would have resolved
the legal issues, but the victims’ emotional issues would
have been left untouched.
During the restorative meeting, the victims asked the offenders,
“Why us?” “Were you watching us and studying our behavior?”
The youths responded that the robbery had been a random choice
and they had not observed the victims’ behavior before or after
the robbery. The youths then asked the victims for forgiveness,
explaining that they realized their actions had harmed not only the
victims and their business, but also their parents and themselves.
One of the victims expressed great relief to know that the youths
were not observing them and that she would be able to sleep in
her home again without fear. The youths and their parents agreed
to pay for the damages caused during the robbery.
In Mexico, as in the rest of the world, to speak of restorative
justice is to speak of building a culture of peace. The facilitators who work in the dispute resolution centers of the judicial
branch and in prosecutors’ offices around the country endeavor
to ensure that restorative processes function well and contribute to a more peaceful society. The path to a peaceful society is
long, and there are many obstacles, but we are definitely on the
right path. Today, our challenge is to maximize the knowledge
and use of restorative justice. By training multidisciplinary professionals who offer quality services throughout the country,
we hope that one day restorative processes will be the people’s
first choice for resolving conflicts in criminal matters and that
the traditional judicial process will become the alternative.
THERE ARE LOTS OF WAYS OF CONNECTING WITH US!