The Restorative Justice Project Maine is rooted in an eclectic, evidence-based set of beliefs and practices:
- Restorative Justice is a grounding philosophy that fosters a Transformative Process for individuals and the community. It is rooted in a relational world-view emphasizing connection and community. This sense of interconnection is profoundly demonstrated by the Southern African concept of “Ubuntu” which loosely translates to: “A person is a person through people.” It is based on the belief that through connection, not exclusion, balance can be restored when harm has been done. The transformative approach requires faith that people have it within themselves to find their way through conflict when given a safe space and the opportunity for authentic communication to take place.
- Restorative Justice espouses to a Strengths-Based approach to mentoring. This is a process of practice rather than a theory. The primary goal is to assist individuals in identifying and building upon their innate strengths. This is based on the beliefs that:
- All human beings have the capacity to learn, grow and change
- All families have strengths
- We don’t know anyone’s upper limits
- All of our participants are creative, human beings doing the best they can at the moment
- Human beings do not make life changes overnight. Each of us goes through a process when we decide to make changes in our lives. The Restorative Justice Project utilizes a model of Stages of Change that teaches us that behavior change involves progression through six basic stages of change. This is a normal, human process and each individual thinks and behaves differently through each stage of the process of change. How a mentor relates to a participant during each stage of change can greatly impact how successful the mentoring experience is.
- Motivational Interviewing is a way of “being” with an individual as he/she progresses through Stages of Change. All humans experience “ambivalence” regarding change. Motivational Interviewing helps individuals to better understand that ambivalence, so they are better able to make healthy decisions regarding change. By helping participants address the fluctuation between opposing behaviors and thoughts, the mentor provides a safe environment for the participant to think about change.
- All human beings have certain Basic Needs that need to be addressed in a relatively progressive order for an individual to reach his/her full potential. Abraham Maslow has provided a hierarchy of needs that can be utilized as a road map for mentors in working with participants: Physiological needs (food, clothing, shelter) are the first primary needs that must be addressed; followed by safety needs; needs of love, affection and belongingness; needs for self esteem; and, finally, needs for self-actualization.
- The majority of RJP participants have experienced some form of poverty, whether generational, situational, or working-class poverty. Poverty stereotypes and judgments must be challenged in order to break Poverty Barriers. Growing up in poverty does cause pain, and this environment impacts a person’s ability to develop to his/her full potential. However, people are dynamic, not static. Resources, opportunities and connections can assist people to success in education, employment and life. Poverty hurts, but it does not leave a “deficient” person that needs to be fixed or compensated for. Poverty is deficient; people are incredible and have many strengths to contribute to their growth.