What is “Restorative Justice” and How Does it Impact Individuals Involved in Crime?

This is a short piece I wrote for the U.S. Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) blog on restorative justice in the criminal justice context.

Fellow restorative justice advocates will know just how difficult (and often fraught) it is to answer the question “What is restorative justice?” This piece captures only a small portion of what restorative justice is and can be, but I hope it will serve as a helpful introduction to some of the basic tenets for those who are unfamiliar. Thank you to BJA for the opportunity!


The Restorative Justice Ritual: A Virtual Book Launch

On February 2nd, 2021, The National Center on Restorative Justice at Vermont Law School hosted a Virtual Book Launch for The Restorative Justice Ritual. If you were unable to attend, I hope you enjoy this video of the event.

During the presentation, I reference a pdf of specific recommendations to help to ensure that the restorative justice process is functioning as a transformative ritual that provides a space for significant and sustainable change at personal and relational levels. You can access that resource here.

Thank you again to all who attended! It was wonderful to get to share this work with such a supportive, engaged, and inspiring group of individuals!

Virtual Book Launch: The Restorative Justice Ritual

I am very excited to share that my second book, The Restorative Justice Ritual, has been published by Routledge!

The National Center on Restorative Justice at Vermont Law School will be hosting a Virtual Book Launch on February 2nd from 2-3 pm EST. Register to attend here.

I am looking forward to the opportunity to share some of the key insights of the research that are applicable to restorative justice practitioners, policy-makers, educators, and advocates.

I hope you can join us!

June Restorative Teaching Tool – An Activity Based on DiAngelo’s book White Fragility

This month’s Restorative Teaching Tool is inspired by Robin DiAngelo’s book White Fragility.
In recent weeks, Kathleen and I, like many people, have recommitted ourselves to continued education, deep personal reflection, and action as we intentionally work to be antiracist. It is often uncomfortable and always vulnerable, but we know this is what we need to be prioritizing.

One of the resources we have found particularly helpful is White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo. This book invites us to reframe our view of racism. Rather than seeing it as a moral failing that only “bad people” have, we see racism as inevitable (but possible to change) because of the culture in which we were socialized. This important reframe has helped us to feel gratitude (rather than shame and defensiveness) when we identify (or others identify) manifestations of our own racism so that we can work to change.

DiAngelo’s important reframe is at the heart of this month’s Restorative Teaching Tool. This activity will invite you and your learners to reflect deeply on your own defensive reactions to awareness of your racism and will provide a process to reframe how you are understanding and responding to that experience.

Kathleen and I are both white and have lived and worked in primarily white communities, so it felt important to design an activity that would provide an opportunity for groups of white people to reflect on their own racism and support each other in change. This is in the tradition of white affinity groups, spaces for white people to discuss race and white privilege and to do the work to challenge their racism together.

Please find a pdf with activity instructions here.

If you would like to sign up to receive future Restorative Teaching Tool of the Month emails, you can do so here.

Restorotopias – A Conversation with Lindsey Pointer

Brunilda Pali recently posted an interview with me on her site, Restorotopias. I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation! Bruna is a role model for me in the restorative practices field, so I was thrilled when she mentioned the idea of an interview.

For any RJ practitioners that may be reading, we touch on a few tricky questions in this conversation that are important to the further growth and implementation of restorative practices. I would love to hear your thoughts!

A conversation with Lindsey Pointer


Restorative Circles: A Powerful Tool for Community Healing

Today, The Blue Review at Boise State University published the piece they invited me to write on Restorative Circles. 
I wrote this article back before the pandemic. More recently, I often wonder how restorative circles can be used to help us heal from the collective trauma of COVID-19.
And as I read the tragic news this week and feel the sadness of George Floyd’s death, I hope and pray that restorative processes might have something to offer to finally begin to heal the harms of pervasive racism and structural inequities in the United States and beyond. Nothing could be more important. Innovative restorative practitioners are already having this conversation and beginning this work. Fania Davis’ The Little Book of Race and Restorative Justice is a great place to start if you want to learn more.

Restorative Circles: A Powerful Tool for Community Healing


Restorative Practices and the Elevation of Women’s Voices

If there is one thing that I think would make a significant positive difference in the trajectory of life on this planet, it is the elevation of marginalized voices including racial minorities, the economically disenfranchised, and women.

It is important that these voices are heard not only for the principle of equal voice and the respect it communicates, but also because these voices offer much needed perspectives and priorities capable of shifting policies and resource allocation for the betterment of humankind.

Women, for example, tend to identify different things as problems and are more likely to think about the needs of families, children, and how we can care for those who have least in our society.[1] This critical perspective is often lost because women’s voices are not heard.

A recent book titled The Silent Sex by Christopher Karpowitz and Tali Mendelberg shares the results of a study looking at how different group compositions and decision-making protocols impacted how often women’s voices are heard. For the study, the researchers established groups of five people with varying compositions of men and women. The groups were asked to split their collective earnings and to determine how economic redistribution should work in society at large.

Half of the groups were told to decide by majority rule (representing the most common protocol decision-making bodies use). In these groups, the researchers observed the behaviors that are all too familiar to women who have been part of group conversations in the workplace and elsewhere. There was dramatically unequal talking time between men and women. It took not just a female majority, but a supermajority (meaning four out of five) for women to have proportionate talking time to men. Outnumbered women in the study spoke at best, three-quarters of the amount of time a man spoke and on average, women spoke two-thirds as much as a man.

The women in these groups were also routinely interrupted, and most of these interruptions were negative, meaning the interjections were discouraging, things like “I don’t think so” or “That’s not right.” In the groups that had one woman alone with four men, 70 percent of the interruptions she received were negative. When there were four women in the room and only one man, men become less aggressive and only 20 percent of the interruptions were negative.

Shifting from Majority Rule to Unanimity Rule

What is interesting about this study is what happened to the other half of the groups. These groups were told to make their decision by unanimity rule.

The results were astounding.

  • Female talking time increased for women in the minority. A lone woman participated nearly as much as a man.
  • Unanimity rule significantly increased positive interruptions—interjections that affirm and validate, like “Yeah” and “I agree.” Such positive interruptions tripled for women in the minority.
  • The influence gap narrowed for a lone woman. She had almost as much of a shot as a man at being voted the most influential member by her group.

As Karpowitz explains, “Unanimity rule sends the message that everybody’s voice matters.” This empowers women’s voices and allows us all to benefit from the perspectives, experiences, and knowledge they bring to the group.

This finding is particularly interesting from the perspective of restorative practices. In restorative practices, all agreement outcomes are decided unanimously. The group discusses the needs of the individuals involved, what would repair the harm caused, and employs creativity in addressing those needs, until they reach a specific list of actions that all participants agree would work to make things right. In restorative processes, we see how this reliance on unanimity rule ensures equal voice and respectful communication.

The demonstrated successes of the unanimity rule approach in restorative practices and the specific structures that make this protocol successful (such as the circle) may have applicability in other areas of social life. What would a restorative approach to politics look like? Could more emphasis on unanimity rule mean less hostile partisan divides, more compromise, more respect, more compassionate policies, and more women in leadership?

[1] Rogers, Brittany. “When Women Speak.” BYU Magazine, 2020.

Online Training: Restorative Practices for University Residence Halls

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Now Available Online!

This course will prepare you to implement restorative practices in your university residence hall.Universities around the world are using restorative practices to foster meaningful relationships, encourage accountability, improve communication, and cultivate feelings of connection and belonging that allow students to thrive.

Learning Outcomes: 

  • Understand and describe the Restorative Philosophy and how it differs from punitive approaches.
  • Facilitate a Connection Circle to build relationships in your community. The circle supports the development of interpersonal skills, promotes cultural awareness, and contributes to a safe and healthy living and learning environment.
  • Facilitate a Circle for Establishing Group Norms, providing students with the opportunity to co-create their hall environment and encouraging ownership of community guidelines.
  • Facilitate a Circle to Respond to a Community Conflict or Trauma, providing a space for healing and resolution following a difficult community experience.
  • Hold a Restorative Conversation to address a conflict or behavior issue. Participants will learn how to ask effective questions, maintain a focus on impacts and repair, and resolve conflict and misbehavior in a way that honors and strengthens relationships.

Time Commitment: Approximately 8-10 hours of case studies, expert interviews, and experiential learning activities. Work through the course at your own pace and receive regular feedback from the instructor.

Cost: $275 (group discounts available)



The Little Book of Restorative Teaching Tools was released today and we also launched www.RestorativeTeachingTools.com!

This website is a free resource for restorative practices trainers and educators. It has all the great games and activities we weren’t able to fit in the book.

You can also sign up on the website to receive a new game in your inbox each month!

On the website, you will also find information about a 5-day training we are offering in August at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado. We would love to have you join us!

A big thank you to Pointer Solutions, LLC for the excellent web design! I am so grateful to have a platform to share this work more widely!


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