Restorative Justice

DSA-LA Harassment Policy Statement

In addition to our guidelines for respectful conduct, we want the DSA community to learn more about the kinds of procedures and resources available for situations where harassment or abuse are alleged.

One external resource involves restorative practices. We have developed a relationship with a program based at UCLA Law, and they have agreed to be available to help us manage situations that may require external support. In general, restorative practices programs aim to facilitate sessions with three points of focus -  those who were injured, those alleged to have caused harm, and the community at large (these groups may be overlapping). All affected parties should be represented in a session including prominent members of the community and support individuals brought by all parties. We've included some more general information below, taken from the UCLA Restorative Justice website.

More information about the restorative practices program can be found on the UCLA Law website: https://law.ucla.edu/student-life/restorative-practices/

As an organization that has grown quite rapidly in recent months, we recognize that there is much work to do in formalizing policies and procedures regarding issues such as harassment, discrimination, and other patterns of behavior that are not consistent with our values. We and our elected Steering Committee will continue to work with relevant committees as well as DSA national in drafting these policies and collaborating with our membership in finalizing them. We're also happy to answer any other questions you may have. Please email comments, suggestions or questions to democraticsocialistsla@gmail.com.

Who participates?

The UCLA facilitators will meet with affected individuals beforehand to gather information, explain the process, and help those individuals decide if they would like to participate themselves, have representatives participate on their behalf, or participate with the support of others. For a complex situation with many affected parties, it would not be unusual for as many as 12-15 people to participate. 

What is a restorative circle?

Restorative circles are similar to conferences, but may involve many more people and involve a talking piece, allowing the dialogue to be much more free-flowing than a facilitated conference. Circles can be utilized when a person who caused harm is present, or even if not, so that harmed parties or supporters can have the opportunity to speak about a matter causing them harm. Participants sit in a circle and one or two facilitators pose questions to the group and ask for responses for those willing or interested as the talking piece passes around the circle. Any participant may "pass" by handing the talking piece to the next person in the circle. At times, the facilitator may decide to “popcorn” the talking piece, meaning that it can move irregularly from one side of the circle to another, and to any person in any order, so long as it goes to whoever is interested in speaking next. The facilitator is responsible for “setting a tone of respect, hope and support” and facilitating for at least three or four rounds.

What is a "Facilitated Restorative Conference?"

During a restorative conference, Restorative Justice Leaders (or Facilitators) facilitate a dialogue between the person who caused harm and the harmed parties.  Typically done while sitting in a circle, the parties discuss the harm that occurred, how it affected each of the people involved, and then decide what steps can be taken to repair the harm.  Typically a written agreement is reached at the end of the conference as to how the person who caused harm will remain accountable to repair the harm.