Nebraska Adopts Standards of Practice for Restorative Justice Facilitators

From BFOI Kristen Blankley:

The State of Nebraska adopted Standards of Practice for Restorative Justice Facilitators (“Nebraska RJ Standards”), which can be found here.

Kristen Blankley (University of Nebraska) chaired the committee responsible for drafting the standards, and committee involved stakeholders from across the state, including Dan Bechtol (Executive Director, Concord Mediation Center), Monica Miles-Steffens (Director of Placement-Court Services, Nebraska Probation), Anne Hobbs (Director, Juvenile Justice Institute at University of Nebraska Omaha), Jessica Laughlin (Deputy County Attorney, Scottsbluff, Nebraska), and Elizabeth Troyer-Miller (Mediator/Facilitator, Central Mediation Center).

The Nebraska RJ Standards are modeled off of the Colorado Restorative Justice Standards of Practice and the AAA/ABA/ACR Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators.  A few items are particularly noteworthy:

First, Nebraska adopted a stand-alone standard regarding the use of surrogates in RJ processes.  Nebraska’s experience in restorative justice involves many cases involving youth on youth incidents, including bullying cases, and it can be difficult to bring all the parties to the table.  Having a statewide ethics standard surrounding surrogates helps ensure consistent practice.

Second, Nebraska adopted a stand-alone standard on safety.  The standard acknowledges the importance of safety in these conversations, as well as the potential for re-victimization, and provides guidance on various types of safety concerns.  The standard also requires pre-facilitation meetings with individual parties and a safety assessment prior to beginning the process.

One of the challenges that we faced as we developed these standards was the wide variety of RJ practices occurring within the state.  Nebraska facilitators conduct child welfare conferences, victim/offender mediations, truancy circles, and other processes.  We also worked to make the standards consistent with recent Nebraska legislation on restorative justice.

We hope that these innovations are useful for other jurisdictions and organizations looking at creating standards for restorative justice facilitators.

One thought on “Nebraska Adopts Standards of Practice for Restorative Justice Facilitators”

  1. Since the Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative was created in 2006, particular attention has been paid to alternative dispute resolution (ADR), or mediation and facilitation, practices within the context of the abuse/neglect court system. As the best interests of the child are of primary concern, mediation and facilitation practices have been shown to be particularly useful in placing the child at the forefront of the parties’ issues and in creating plans that are best for the family. In Nebraska, the development of mediation and facilitation practices in abuse/neglect cases began with the development of Pre-Hearing Conferences which are held prior to the Protective Custody Hearing, the first hearing after the child is removed from the home. The purpose of the Pre-Hearing Conference is three-fold: (1) to gather information about the family at the beginning of the court process, (2) to include the parents in the decision-making process and improve their buy-in, and (3) to identify and initiate necessary services as soon as possible. In 2006, a Protocol Development Committee developed a statewide protocol for initial Pre-Hearing Conferences, which is available below. By 2008, most local teams had integrated Pre-Hearing Conferences into court practice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.