RESTORATIVE JUSTICE: Second Chances in an Unforgiving Society
By Rev. David Thompson
Rev. David Thompson is a retired Elder in the North Central Conference of the Free Methodist Church, a retired U.S. Navy Chaplain and mental health counselor, and former Superintendent of the former Minn-I-Kota Conference. One of his sons is one of the 70 million Americans with a record, for a decade-old misdemeanor that has been a barrier for meaningful employment, housing and credit for the past eight years. Only recently was he offered, as a veteran who served seven years on active duty, a second chance in employment with a good job with the VA to help other veterans like himself, get on their feet after suffering wounds of mind, body, and spirit in war- time service.
Supt. Thompson presents an important and profound call on all of us as compassionate Christians who ourselves live by God’s restorative mercy.
Anytime one starts talking about restorative justice in a world where revenge and punishment are often the normal response for offenses against persons and society, it is to venture into controversial waters.
I am deeply sensitive to the pain and grief that is visited upon victims of crime and the challenge to forgive, feel safe, and rebuild trust that has been lost. This is no small task of mind and spirit requiring sometimes years of counsel and support from friends and caring clinicians. It takes a real touch from the Lord to help many move on in life after such a trauma and not remain captured by fear and anger.