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Step 4: Decide On Basic Strategies

You have identified a specific goal, and assessed your strengths and obstacles. Before deciding on specific action steps, think about some basic strategies that will guide your action plan. For example, if your goal is to enlist 200 community sponsors, your strategy might be to focus on certain groups that are likely to support your work.

In adopting strategies, don't forget the basic values of restorative justice. Reflect on the following comments by Kay Pranis as you think about your basic strategies:
A restorative response to crime relies on the community to help reconcile and reintegrate victims and offenders. The community can also monitor and help enforce community standards of behavior. This means that a restorative response to crime must be a community-building response.

There is no single approach to building community support. But certain principles can increase the chances of success.
  • Restorative justice should not be mandated in a "top-down" authoritarian process. To gain community support and participation, the work of implementing the principles of restorative justice must be done at the local level and involve all the people who will be affected.
  • There is no single road map or blueprint for building a restorative system. No one has answers to all the questions raised by the principles of restorative justice. The process of creating specific programs, then, should involve all those who have an interest in the unanswered questions. Including them helps build community support.
  • While restorative programs should be developed locally, there are important roles for regional or national leadership. Those leaders should articulate the vision, distribute information, and provide support and technical assistance to local communities. Regional and national agencies can also carry out pilot programs to demonstrate application of the principles. Finally, those governments should monitor outcomes to insure fairness, equity and effectiveness of processes designed at the local level.
  • Special efforts to involve victims are important because they have historically been left out of the criminal justice process. Victims' groups may be skeptical that an initiative that has benefits to offenders can genuinely have victim interests at its center. An unwavering commitment to involve victims even when they are suspicious is critical to insure that the outcomes are genuinely restorative.
  • It is important that practitioners and stakeholders, including the community, understand the philosophy of restorative justice. That makes it more likely that changes will be substantive and not merely superficial. Program implementation without a clear understanding of the underlying values often leads to undesirable results.
  • The process of implementing restorative approaches must model the principles themselves. So victims must have a voice, the community must be involved. In fact, every person should be able to contribute to their community's vision of restorative justice.
  • Within the community are natural allies in fields outside criminal justice who can bring depth and credibility to advocacy and implementation of a restorative approach.
  • Start with people who are actively interested in trying restorative approaches. Seeds sown in fertile soil produce the most impressive results. The example of those results are more likely to convince skeptics than arguments.
  • Two-way communications between community stakeholders and regional or national leadership is very important.
  • All persons involved must be prepared to make mistakes. All persons must be prepared for others to make mistakes.

Write down the basic strategies you will adopt as you work toward achieving your goal.


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