Last October, Chaffee County’s commissioners endorsed Full Circle Restorative Justice’s proposal to make October Conflict Resolution Month.
This year, FCRJ is hoping to use the month to educate people on some peaceful ways to resolve their conflicts.
“Being Conflict Resolution Month, we want to bring awareness to the different ways to resolve conflict,” said Patty LaTaille, Full Circle Restorative Justice’s program director. “They can choose a constructive manner or the traditional route that may not be a mutually agreeable situation.”
One of the things FCRJ does is get the people affected in the same room together with a moderator so both parties can find a solution they both believe will heal the situation.
“We focus on the needs of the person harmed and also the accountability of the person who did the harm and give them an opportunity to repair it,” LaTaille said. “We bring them together face to face with a facilitator so they can have a discussion, draw up an agreement and have a structured approach to repair the harm.”
LaTaille illustrated the point with a hypothetical example of a youth stealing from an older person. By putting them in the same room together, the kid can understand how the theft affected the older person, turning the situation from abstract into something concrete.
“Remorse is a key thing so they want to do something to make it right,” LaTaille said. “It’s like community justice. They resolve issues on their own. Even if it’s court-ordered, they’re part of the process.”
In a more traditional way of resolving the problem, the older person could simply call the cops and the youth would get punished with community service or probation without seeing first hand how his or her actions actually affected someone else.
“We’re putting the emphasis on resolving conflicts in a peaceful, positive manner and utilizing services like mediators,” LaTaille said.
FCRJ also uses dogs in its Paws for Peace program. “Therapy dogs remove the tension that is an element of conflict to a level that helps people feel safe to express how they’re feeling about what’s happened,” said Molly Leach, executive director, on FCRJ’s web page describing the Paws program.
Simply put, addressing and resolving the underlying issues and conflict inherent in a dispute are Restorative Justice’s focus. Punitive measures aren’t.
People can find out more information on FCRJ at https://fullcirclerj.org or by calling 719-530-5597.