Decolonizing Restorative Justice

Unsettling America

By Denise C. Breton, Unsettling Ourselves

When I first heard about restorative justice, I remember feeling liberated and inspired by a movement that advocates responses to harm other than inflicting more harm. What a concept! It gave me hope that the untold harms in this world could be addressed in healing ways—ways that addressed why harms were happening in the first place. We could put our energies and resources into repairing whatever needed mending and changing whatever was generating hurt.

If, for example, a square peg was not fitting into a round hole, hitting it harder, denigrating square-ness, or locking the peg in a drawer for a few years was not going to solve the problem. According to restorative justice, harms alert us that we need to look deeper into our relationships and how we are going about life. If we respond to harms in a good and open way…

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