PH International

Training for ZANG CJCs: Introduction to Victim-Offender Mediation and Restorative Conferencing

Armenia | ZANG Armenian Legal Socialization Project | 26 Oct 2012

On August 25-27, PHI organized a training on victim-offender mediation/restorative conferencing for 30 participants from 10 ZANG CJCs, a representative from the Social-Psychological unit of the Ministry of Justice and the psychologist from the Abovyan Penitentiary. Lori Baker, a specialist holding an MA degree on mediation and with years of experience on mediating and managing a Vermont-based CJC herself, was hired from the U.S. to design the training module and facilitate the training in Armenia.

The focus of the training was for participants to learn about restorative conferencing, the theories and principles that support it, and how to prepare for and facilitate a restorative conference. Breaking down the training into individual goals, they were:

  • To gain understanding of the principles of restorative justice, and what supports a Balanced and Restorative Approach to Justice (BARJ) for Juveniles.
  • To gain understanding of how the restorative conference is aligned behind the principles; and how the script and theories are intended to produce accountability, competency development and community safety.
  • To learn how the restorative conferencing process supports victims and allows them a voice, and promotes a collaborative approach to amends making To understand the role of a conference facilitator and how neutrality plays an important part and to consider personal boundaries concerning neutrality.
  • To understand the importance of conference preparation and know the steps to select and prepare all parties.
  • To prepare training participants to feel confident that they can begin to convene and facilitate a conference.

As evidenced in participant evaluations, the training was successful and very useful.The group understood the principles of restorative justice, and explored their own beliefs about it and how restorative responses affected them when in the shoes of a victim and offender. Exploring their shame and how that is changed through restorative responses had a lot of impact, as well as considering the theory behind the movement of emotions (Nine Affects). All participants, especially the CJC representatives are planning to further enforce the BARJ principles in their daily work.

The training sessions were filmed and archived in DVDs to be used by interested specialists as a self-training resource.