Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Restorative Justice

This post isn't about ADHD, but about family issues, especially love and forgiveness. I am a firm believer in restorative justice – the power of forgiveness and using "punishment" as a tool for healing. I even did a big paper during law school on the South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission – the power of the aggressors and victims talking and finding some resolution for what has been done to the victims.

My next door neighbor is big on restorative justice, too, and on forgiveness. The past 2 years, I have watched her work hard on forgiveness after her son was killed in a single-car drunk driving accident – his best friend was driving. To make a long story short, she worked hard with the prosecutor to make sure the driver would not spend the rest of his life in jail, while working to compensate for his bad judgment. This kid is a felon – and it is only through my neighbor's forgiveness that he won't spend his life in prison.

Part of his community service requirement is to help my neighbor with some projects, including starting and raising money for a nonprofit. They will get to know each other very well through this, and it cannot be easy for her – even though this is (well, otherwise) a great kid who works hard and should have a bright future.

I didn't think this would affect me; I barely knew Torey. But today as I was walking out to my car, 16-month-old child in my arms, I realized the man cutting my neighbor's grass is probably "the kid who killed Torey." And my stomach just dropped, with fear and anger. I held my son tighter and didn't waste any time getting to the car and going. Wow. I realize I will have to do some forgiveness, and it will take a bit of work. This is nothing compared to what my neighbor is feeling, but to actually feel this …

I still believe in restorative justice. But now I have more understanding for victims who say they "just can't." It is a lot of work.

1 comment:

  1. In a situation like that, I put my own child in place of the person to imagine how I would react. If your child was the one that killed someone else, how would you forgive them. You would work damn hard to forgive him/her. Or, I'm assuming you would. I would. He is someone's child that made a HUGE mistake. He will live with the guilt the rest of his life. I think we owe it to others to forgive them and let God be the judge. IMO, if they never heal, they will be even a bigger burden on society through other harms.