Over 100 people attended our “Healing Justice” Film Screening and Panel Discussion event on July 19 at B’nai Israel Temple. The event was organized in partnership with West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and American Friends Service Committee WV. We were moved by Shakti Butler’s documentary and the stories shared by Joanna Tabit, Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge; Commissioner David Kladney, US Commission on Civil Rights; Rico Moore, local criminal defense attorney; and Rev. Lloyd Hill. We hope this film will spark a flame in this area and possibly shift the broken justice system as a whole.
While the film discussed the problems with the U.S. criminal justice system, it also provided an alternative to incarceration: restorative justice. Restorative justice work is a two-fold community process; facilitators help victims identify what they need to heal and help offenders identify the root causes of their actions. In the film, service providers who host healing circles offered testimonies and offenders shared their stories. The circles act as safer spaces for offenders to explore the ways they were hurt in life and how that pain has led them to hurt others. While the victim is the main focus, restorative justice circles provide offenders with healing as well.
The next restorative justice-focused event in West Virginia will take place on September 19, 2018 at 6:00 PM at Destiny Baptist Church in Martinsburg, sponsored by the NAACP.
While we seek accountability from the government for a broken criminal justice system, we also seek to restore “wholeness” in ourselves and others. How are you creating and facilitating restorative justice practices in your community?
Read the Gazette-Mail coverage of the panel discussion here.
View the trailer for “Healing Justice” here.