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Published on Sep 13, 2012
Restorative Justice is an alternative to the judicial system that is proving successful around the world in keeping youth offenders out of jail and reducing recidivism. A partner process, Restorative Circles, is a community-based system that supports those involved in conflict by bringing together the parties involved and creating conditions for mutually beneficial action. Dominic Barter is an internationally recognized expert on restorative justice. In the 1990s, he developed Restorative Circles in the favelas of Brazil and the process has been applied on the community level in 22 countries and has been used as a part of award-winning government projects in justice and educational and social services. The M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at the University of Rochester has been a primary sponsor for Dominic Barter's return visit to Rochester following up on his first trip here in 2010 to deliver a series of seminars on the practice of restorative justice.
In Rochester, restorative initiatives have begun to be adopted in schools, courts, and communities. At the collegiate level, the University of Rochester's Center for Student Conflict Management works with administrators to make alternative dispute resolutions like restorative circles part of the campus culture and the approach has been used in a variety of situations, from disagreements among roommates to disputes between teammates on an athletic team. Members of the University's security staff also underwent training in restorative practices this past February. In the Rochester City School District, both Monroe and Wilson Magnet high schools are among a number of buildings to employ restorative processes to resolve issues. In the courts, Partners in Restorative Initiatives works with the Monroe County district attorney's office to identify appropriate uses of restorative justice processes in city and town court cases.