When it comes to holding individuals accountable for harm they have caused, restorative justice practices can provide a valuable framework for addressing the harm and repairing relationships. One key aspect of a restorative justice approach is a focus on repairing harm, rather than solely punishing the person who caused the harm.
At Safe Mediation, we believe that an accountability process should include several essential ingredients in order to be effective. These include:
- A clear understanding of the harm caused: We begin by gaining a thorough understanding of the harm that was caused, taking into account the perspectives of those who were harmed and any relevant information provided by the person who caused the harm.
- An open and honest dialogue: We facilitate open and honest dialogue between the person who caused the harm and the person or community who was harmed, as well as any other relevant parties. This dialogue is facilitated by a neutral third party, such as a mediator, who helps create a safe space for all parties to share their perspectives and feelings.
- A focus on repairing harm: We focus on repairing the harm that was caused, rather than solely punishing the person who caused the harm. This may involve the person who caused the harm taking steps to make amends, such as apologizing, providing restitution, or making a commitment to change their behavior.
- A commitment to ongoing accountability: We include ongoing accountability measures to ensure that the person who caused the harm is following through on their commitments and taking steps to repair the harm. This may involve regular check-ins or progress reports, as well as ongoing support and resources to help the person maintain their commitment to change.
- Involvement of the community: We involve the wider community, as they might have been affected by the harm and they have a role to play in the healing process.
- Trauma-informed: We design the process in a way that takes into account the potential for retraumatization of all parties involved, including the person who caused the harm.
In addition to these essential ingredients, Safe Mediation has developed a specific checklist for overseeing accountability for those who have caused harm to members of a community. This checklist includes:
- A personal commitment from the person accountable to pause their activities that have caused harm to others
- A rigorous internal inventory to change harmful behavior permanently
- Intentional steps to increase trauma-awareness
- Public responsibility for the harm caused
- Repair of the harm to the extent possible
- An Accountability Pod with community members, mentors, coaches, healers, and advisors to support the long process of rehabilitation and eventual reintegration of the person accountable into the community
- A webpage dedicated to each Accountability Process that allows the community to get in touch, receive public updates as steps are taken, and actively support the person accountable in their restorative process as it unfolds.
We believe that by implementing these key points, we can create a more effective and just process for holding individuals accountable for harm they have caused. And we are open to working with other experts to explore collaboration on these matters.