The DRC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, community dispute resolution program partnering with the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office to offer a healing approach outside of the criminal justice system, called the Restorative Justice Deflection Program.
If you are involved in a case with the Prosecutor's Office and have been referred to the DRC, we will help guide you through the entire program.
What is restorative justice?
Restorative justice is an alternative to the traditional criminal justice system and offers a survivor centered and healing model to address wrongdoing, harm or crime.
The restorative justice approach is deeply rooted in North American Indigenous cultural and sacred practices to address harm or wrongdoing between all involved.
Restorative or healing circles aim to:
- Create a safe space for all involved to address the harm(s)
- Provide a safe space for the survivor to be heard
- Provide a safe space for the person who committed the harm(s) to make amends
- Assist the survivor and the one who caused the harm to create a plan for re-entering their communities.
- Create understanding, connection, and reconciliation.
All court proceedings will be placed on hold.
The Dispute Resolution Center will prepare a survivor and the person who committed harm for sessions in which a plan to make amends can be discussed.
The person who harmed will be expected to:
- Acknowledge the harm,
- Accept responsibility, and
- Make amends in a manner that is satisfactory to the survivor.
If the restorative justice process fails—or the person who harmed fails to make amends—criminal charges may continue to be pursued by the Prosecutor’s Office.
If the restorative justice process succeeds, amends are made, and the person who harmed does not commit a new offense for 18 months, charges will be dismissed by the Prosecutor’s Office.
Upon first contact with a survivor, Victim Advocates will present restorative justice as a free option to the traditional criminal legal system. If a survivor decides to use the restorative justice process, the Prosecutor’s Office, through Victim Advocates, will refer the survivor to the Dispute Resolution Center.
Step 1 - Intake
A survivor will be introduced to their DRC Restorative Justice Coordinator who will explain the basic principles, values, and next steps of the restorative justice process.
Intake is an opportunity for survivors to express concerns and ask any questions and identify any support they would like to invite into the process.
Everything discussed with a survivor’s coordinator is completely confidential and only shared with a later-assigned facilitator who will guide survivors through step two and step three of the process.
The DRC Restorative Justice Coordinator will contact the person who has harmed about participating in the process.
Step 2 - Accountability Plan
Once everyone has agreed to participate and all parties feel comfortable moving forward, the DRC will introduce all parties to their Restorative Justice Facilitators, who will initially meet with each party individually to guide and provide one-on-one support through the process.
During this phase, there will be several restorative circle sessions that will create space for survivors to be heard and begin to identify their needs moving forward.
The three phases of a restorative circle are:
- Co-creating an accountability plan
- Reviewing success of the plan
Survivors and those who have harmed them will co-create an accountability plan that will help guide the 18-month restorative process and beyond.
Step 3 - Final Check-In
At this stage, the hope is that the harm has been repaired, the outcomes are satisfactory to both parties, and everyone is restored and healed from the incident.
Upon successful completion of this program, the DRC Restorative Justice Coordinator will contact the Prosecutor’s Office to dismiss the criminal charges and close the case.
Read the full Washtenaw County Prosecutor Policy HERE.
Check out our video below in collaboration with the Peacemaking Court and how we've been using the restorative justice process in schools, community, and all situations where conflict arises.