This was not the usual referral from Probation. An attorney at the US Attorney’s office was grappling with the case of a well-publicized offense by a white supremist in which swastikas were painted on two synagogues, a congressman’s door, and three other buildings. She wanted the young adult to realize the impact of his deeds, and having just heard a presentation about the Restorative Justice Mediation Program in her church, she requested RJMP’s services.
The mediators carefully listened to each one of the victims’ stories as well as conducted an interview with the young man who seemed hardened and unable to comprehend the meaning of his deed. All parties were willing to come together. At the joint meeting, the six victims each were able to tell the offender what the offense had meant to them, and how it had conjured up anew the memories of stories of family and friends’ experiences in the Holocaust, and of the discrimination they continued to deal with. The impact was significant on this young man. Although not able to ask forgiveness (which does not always occur, and is never forced), he did express some remorse and promised he would not do it again. The two mediators felt rewarded for their hours of work believing he had come a long way in that short period of time on the journey from hostility toward peace.
Years since, the director of the program met his attorney who reported with great satisfaction that, indeed, the young man never did it again.
Again, when the process is allowed to work, it has a powerful affect.