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.