Photo of a group of 5 people meeting in CJC's offices for a VORP Circle. They are seated on couches and chairs and a man in blue is reading from a paper.

Michael’s Story

Here at VORP, we believe that true justice is Restorative.

This belief allows us to address the harms and needs of those harmed as well as those who have caused harm instead of simply inflicting punishment. 

In a recent case, a high school student by the name of Michael stole another student’s (Catherine) phone, and other belongings on campus. The Fresno County Juvenile Court referred Michael and Catherine to VORP to engage in a restorative process. 

The mediator started by meeting with Michael and his family individually to discuss what he had done. Michael shared that he had seen Catherine around school since the incident and felt bad about his actions but didn’t know how to approach her and apologize for what he had done. Michael informed the mediator that Catherine had recovered her belongings, but there was still tension between them. 

Catherine and her mother also met with the mediator and expressed their desire to be involved in the mediation process. Although she had her phone back, some of the photos of her grandmother had been deleted and she wanted Michael to know how much they meant to her and how much the loss of the photos had affected her. She also wanted to tell Michael about the loss of safety and peace of mind that she had experienced since the incident.  

Michael, Catherine, their families, and the mediator met at CJC office for a joint meeting. Both parties and their support groups shared their perspective of the incident, how it affected them, and how things could be made as right as possible. 

Catherine and her mother took this opportunity to tell Michael how this incident affected their sense of security, and how the loss of the photos had impacted them. Michael had a chance to hear Catherine’s perspective of the incident, took accountability for his actions, apologized, and assured Catherine and her mother that he would never do anything like that again. Catherine and her mother appreciated the conversation with Michael and his family, they were pleased with the emotional closure and thanked the mediator for helping them go through the restorative process.  

In this case, Restorative Justice empowered the Party Harmed (victim) to have a say in the making of justice, restored a sense of security and provided closure.  In addition, the Responsible Party (offender) was held responsible and accountable for the harm caused, made amend,s and promised to never engage in such behavior again. 

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