Restorative justice emphasizes the restoration of the harm caused by criminal acts, which is worth exploring. The focus is on examining the victims’ life experiences in an environment involving a certain community, not just two warring parties, and developing a compensation and treatment plan, as well as preventing future injuries. In some jurisdictions, district prosecutors have successfully implemented these types of programmes. This approach is particularly promising in cases of sexual misconduct in which the victim and the defendant are of the same age (when there are significant differences in age, power, social status, etc.). Although this may be counterintuitive, the American business community is already using a conflict resolution approach that has many of these characteristics: mediation. The fulcrum of this government’s opening up to greater mediation actually provides more flexibility for university campuses. They should pay attention to other backgrounds where mediation has proved to be good.
When we think about mediation in the business world, we may think of contract disputes, dissolution of partnerships, or other seemingly trivial conflicts. In fact, whenever someone is involved, emotions are part of the landscape. A failed joint venture can strain friendships and put incredible pressure on the marriage and personal lives of once optimistic business partners. In these types of cases, mediation may be the answer. It is precisely because of high emotions that the parties may not be able to objectively view each party to the case. Experienced mediators know how to make upset parties feel heard. This is a necessary precondition for the settlement of almost all disputes.
Mediation programmes can provide opportunities for lawyers and retired judges, who have many years of experience in sexual violence cases and incredible institutional knowledge to take responsibility in these delicate cases of alleged sexual assault and misconduct by students. Colleges and universities do not want to simply duplicate the criminal justice system, and they should not. This system is now undergoing profound and fundamental changes. It has been developed for several centuries to meet the needs of the US Constitution, state constitution, as well as extreme arrest and imprisonment and extensive antisocial behavior. Its due process norms deserve deep respect and can provide information, but in most other ways, it is too different from a system that serves very different hosts and targets to be a successful model for Chapter 9 attacks and misconduct decisions on campus.
Lawyers in some regions have begun to use restorative justice models, in which prosecutors hold all the cards and have no real neutrality. The background of this model is the severe reality of the criminal justice system. The prosecutor basically said to the defendant, “impressed me in the restorative justice process”, because the defendant has no “right” except for the traditional court process, and the enforcement of Restorative Justice program is often not carefully examined. Through the restorative justice model, universities and colleges will be better served, which has greater flexibility and is led by experienced neutrals, such as lawyers or retired judges, who have no contact with schools or students. The more flexible the solution to justice is, the more important it is for experienced leaders to ensure that this flexibility does not simply lead the parties astray, making them “in the woods” emotional and away from feeling as if their views were heard and considered.
Experienced mediators can also help by recognizing that college students are usually young people, not adults. Universities must take the position of competent facilitators to help all students understand their own experiences and coordinate them with those of their peers. Experienced mediators can help guide and design the “community” engagement component of restorative justice programs without the risk of loss of control.
Although experienced neutrals still need the help of managers in terms of the culture, policies, resources and academic requirements of the school, the skills and expertise that neutrals bring bring bring short-term success, but also have a lasting impact because students feel they have been heard and have some power in decisions that affect their lives.
In addition, it is worth noting that our taxes have paid for decades of training and experience dealing with interpersonal attacks. Retired judges can use this to benefit universities and their students. This is a strong subsidy that all schools should consider.