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Restorative Justice in a Kansas Prison: Parents meet Offender

TOPEKA, Kan. — Early one morning along a stretch of nearly deserted Kansas highway, Cameron Freeman, a college student from Nebraska, and Zachary Harrison, an Air Force loadmaster, were involved in a violent traffic collision that left one of the promising young men dead and the other in prison.

Suffering from pain, confusion and bouts of overpowering anger, the survivor and the victim’s family eventually agreed to meet through a Kansas restorative justice program, which brings together victims and those who have upended their lives. Similar programs are expanding throughout the country. Here’s a look at Cameron, Zachary and Cameron’s parents as they become involved in the program.

We thank the New York Times for their coverage of this story. Restorative justice occurs in many places, often unseen. But there has been a recent expansion of the use of restorative justice programming inside prison walls to bring victims and offenders together. The interest in the use of in-prison restorative justice programs is not only in the U.S.  but globally.
Here the parents of Cameron Freeman meet the offender, Zachary, who killed their son. Zachary is  serving a prison sentence in a Kansas. To RJI what is key is the importance of offender accountability. Through restorative justice processes offenders can take responsibility for their actions. As critical is that through restorative justice victims can ask questions and receive a measure of healing through participating in a victim offender meeting. Forgiveness sometimes is expressed by victims who choose to participate in restorative justice but forgiveness is never the goal.