Roger Pascal Restorative Justice Initiative
Who was Roger Pascal?
A lawyer and partner with the law firm Schiff Hardin for 50 years. Brilliant litigator. Consummate volunteer attorney and Board Member of the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy for over thirty years. A friend and a tireless supporter of justice and civil liberties no matter how difficult the struggle, Roger inspired generations of lawyers to make the world a better place.
What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice is a philosophy that is based on a set of principles which guide the response to conflict and harm; it is a critical part of building a Restorative Community. Restorative Justice reflects the reality that acts of wrongdoing do not just violate laws and rules but, more importantly, harm people, communities, and relationships. By providing a mechanism to identify and repair such harm, Restorative Justice builds relationships and empowers the community to take responsibility for the well-being of its members by using facilitated, restorative conversations including peace circles, victim-offender conferences, family conferences, incident-response circles, and community circles.
Instead of asking, “What rule was broken?” Restorative Justice asks, “What is the harm caused and to whom?”
“What do they deserve?” is replaced by, “Who has the obligation to address the needs, repair the harms, restore the relationships, and how?”
All stakeholders are involved in the process and those impacted by wrongdoing are given the opportunity to collectively identify its impact and determine the steps to make it right. By focusing on repairing harm and addressing root causes, relationships are strengthened, youth have a more meaningful opportunity to learn and grow from their mistakes, and future harm is less likely.
What is a Restorative Community?
There is no singular vision for a Restorative Community; instead there are a set of foundational principles guiding communities to find their way together. A Restorative Community is deeply rooted in the human capacity for transformation — in the belief that people are far more and far better than the worst thing they have ever done. In a Restorative Community, all members are active stewards who hold each other accountable for the harms they cause and the needs they have. It is a place where our shared responsibility to each other and our community is lived daily by our commitment to restorative practices that are embedded culturally – in the way we treat each other – and embedded structurally, in our neighborhoods, schools, and social systems.
What’s the Moran Center’s role in creating a Restorative Community?
The Moran Center is poised to be a driving force in creating, collaborating and coordinating a restorative model throughout Evanston. The Moran Center has evolved in recent years to provide programs that lessen negative impacts of school discipline and divert youth from court involvement. Our next, best step is in creating a Restorative Community to build on our successes. Our current initiatives include:
- Restorative Collective: A new partnership between local community partners – City of Evanston’s Youth & Young Adult Division, Connections for the Homeless, Curt’s Café, Erie Family Health Center, Infant Welfare Society of Evanston, PEER Services, Youth Job Center, and Youth & Opportunity United (“Y.O.U.”) – to establish a seamless, restorative network of support for youth and their families.
- Education and Training: We offer education and training programs with community members and institutions on restorative practices and why we believe they are an essential tool in building a stronger, more equitable, and just community.
- Advocacy and Systemic Change: The Moran Center successfully advocated for and now will help implement the City of Evanston’s new administrative hearing process for juveniles as a restorative and supportive off-ramp from the criminal justice system. We are also presently championing a proposal in Springfield to ensure communications within and about restorative practices are privileged.
- Restorative Justice Court: The Moran Center will draw from our community-based experience, as well as lessons learned from the model being piloted in North Lawndale, to build a restorative court in our community for youthful offenders (18-26 year-olds) as an alternative to prison.
By advancing community-based restorative practices and policies, the Moran Center will further our vision of building a stronger, more equitable, and just community through empathy, understanding of context, communications, and a better approach to justice.
Is Restorative Justice effective?
- Yes. Restorative Justice has been shown to reduce suspension days, decrease arrests, and reduce violence within communities, including our own. One recent study found that individuals on probation who attended a Restorative Justice Intervention were half as likely to re-offend as those who received traditional treatment. The study concluded that even brief restorative interventions have a “positive multilevel impact.”
Why is the Moran Center promoting a Restorative Community?
- While a true Restorative Community will require collaboration across our city, the Moran Center is poised to be a driving force. With our long history of closing the “justice gap,” by providing holistic legal representation and social work services, the Moran Center has evolved in recent years to provide programs that mitigate negative impacts of school discipline and divert youth from court involvement. Our preventative programs improve access to education, rebuild relationships between police and youth, and provide social-emotional interventions to build skills for youth who have experienced trauma. By advancing community-based restorative practices and policies, the Moran Center will further our vision of building a stronger, more equitable, and just community.