The Portland Center for Restorative Justice is available to individuals and organizations in the Greater Portland, Maine community. Our mission is to offer a safe and respectful setting where healing can occur, for youths and for adults, using Community Circles or Facilitated Dialogues.
Influenced by the work of Kay Pranis, the Center creates “Circles” as a forum for resolving conflict. Based on Native American traditions of Talking Circles, this practice allows for a more communal response to issues such as crime and violence. The goals of a Circle may include creating a witness for those harmed by crime, assisting in accountability for those who have created harm, and also creating pathways for those who have harmed to be reincorporated into community.
Dialogues bring together people who have experienced harm with those responsible for that harm. In a supportive and confidential environment, the victim(s) can express their experiences as fully as they need to. This process creates a context where offenders are able to take in the true impact of their actions. For one who has been harmed, witnessing meaningful remorse is often a profoundly healing experience. Dialogues provide an opportunity for a victim to ask all the questions they might have about an incident. The outcome is always a unique agreement which the parties work out jointly, a process which is healing for the victim and empowering for the offender.
The Center also offers training in Restorative Justice practices to schools, correctional facilities, and other settings. Our training programs help shift perspective from an emphasis on retribution and punishment, to an emphasis on healing and reincorporation into community. We teach skills in deep listening; evoking emotionally evocative accounts of harm; and creating conversations that heighten accountability. As shifting to a Restorative Justice approach requires sustained skill-building over time, we also assist organizations with ongoing supervision and "tune-ups."