New in 2017, Restorative Justice Durham (RJ Durham) is an RCND collaboration to develop community, volunteer, and institutional support for restorative justice practices in Durham’s criminal justice system. Working alongside volunteers, community partners, and criminal justice practitioners, we seek a restorative justice process that repairs of harm of crime and restores the relationships—both individual and collective—that were hurt by wrongdoing.

What is restorative justice?

The restorative justice process brings together the person harmed and the person who caused the harm, alongside their supporters, family, and community members. It then creates intentional space to talk about the incident, and to come to agreement for how the person who caused harm can take responsibility for their actions. The framework for the restorative justice process rest in our most basic values of honesty, integrity, compassion, and responsibility.

How does restorative justice work?

There are five basic components to the restorative justice process. (Drawn from Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast Maine).

  • Preliminary Conversations with the person who harmed and their support person(s), and (separately) with person harmed and their support person(s). These sessions introduce restorative justice principles, explain the specifics of process, and provide space to answer any questions.
  • Community Conference Circle. That is, a facilitated, guided conversation in which everyone involved answers: What happened? What did you think and feel at time of incident and since? Who was affected? What needs to be done to make things right?
  • Repair Agreement resulting from the Conference Circle details how the person who harmed can take responsibility for repairing the harm caused. Once fulfilled, then
  • Once the Repair Agreement is fulfilled, a Closing Conference Circle convenes the original Community Conference Circle to determine if justice was achieved and all obligations fulfilled.
  • If so, then Wrap-Up consists of a formal letter to the referring party notifying them of outcome.

Community Partners

RJ Durham is under the guidance of Jon Powell, Director of Campbell Law School ‘s Restorative Justice Clinic. We are also receiving training in RJ facilitation from Sheryl Wilson, president of the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice, and Amy Elliot, RJ practitioner/trainer, and psychotherapist.

Our restorative justice practice in Durham is in partnership with the Durham County’s Criminal Justice Resource Center, Durham’s Misdemeanor Diversion Program, and the Durham’s District Attorney’s office.

Join Us!

RJDurham has begun training volunteers! Beginning in November, we’ll be offering two practice circles on the third Wednesday morning and third Thursday evening of each month.These circles will provide an introduction to restorative justice (RJ) principles, and opportunities to learn/practice the support and facilitation of RJ circles. Training is conducted by experienced RJ practitioners, and open to all.

Our December circles will be held December 14 & 20 (details below). Because we are limiting our sessions to 90 minutes we ask that folks arrive 10–15 minutes before the start time so we can all get settled in to begin promptly. We will provide water and light snacks.

  • December 14 from 7:00–8:30 pm @ Watts Street Baptist Church (800 Watts Street). Come to parking lot behind the church and enter through back door.
  • December 20 from 10:00–11:30 am @ CANU / Oak Church (2100 Chapel Hill Road). Come to parking lot behind the church, entrance is up the sidewalk.

For more information or questions on our RJ training circles, or the ongoing evolution of Restorative Justice Durham, contact us as