The first person I profiled in this series was a Christian monk. The next person I want to talk about, strangely enough, is a criminal prosecutor.
His name is Rupert Ross.
During his work with Justice Canada, Ross examined and experienced the Aboriginal approach to ‘peacemaker’ justice. In contrast with a justice system that focuses simply on identifying and punishing criminals, this is an approach that addresses the full set of connections between the perpetrator of a crime, the victim, and the wider community that they find themselves in.
In his book ‘Returning to the Teachings‘, Ross describes a Native American approach to restorative justice called a Healing Circle. This is a tool that gives a voice to everyone affected by the crime – the victim, the victim’s family, the offender and their family, and community representatives.
The ultimate goal is not merely punishment, but to break the cycle of crime, in part by bringing the offender to a point of recognition and accountability for the effect their actions have had.
Just as Brother Roger devoted his life to reconciliation between different branches of the church, practitioners of restorative justice such as Rupert Ross are dedicated to bringing reconciliation and healing to broken individuals and communities.