When someone talks about the justice system, we of course tend to think of a system run by our government that includes courts, judges, lawyers, police officers, clerks and prisons. But every one of us carries out our day among multiple justice systems. They are at work, at school, on our sports teams, in our community organizations, our faith centers and… our families. The first justice system you experience is through your parents, and if the family is healthy, that justice system is indeed centered around love.

There is a shift in parenting guidance that has been going on for many years now, gradually moving our culture away from punishment-based child raising and towards discipline through other techniques, such as regarding times where behavior correction is needed as ‘teachable moments.’ It is my belief that these changes both reflect and feed a slow shift in awareness away from punishment as a necessary component of justice. We need not sacrifice discipline or accountability in this shift. Rather, we gain more of both.

In recognition that Justice begins first in the family, posts in this section share ways of  living justice rooted in love with your loved ones.   – Kim Vanderheiden



Justice Conversation Booklist for Children

THE GEORGIA JUSTICE PROJECT — Family Restoration after Prison

Timothy with his children

by Ross Brockway of the Georgia Justice Project. Artwork by Kim Vanderheiden. Reprinted from The Conscious Lawyer magazine’s special feature of the work by members of PISLAP (Project for Integrating Spirituality, Law and Politics.) If you feel moved by this story, please support the work of the Georgia Justice Project and PISLAP, and sign up to receive The Conscious Lawyer where you’ll find many more articles inspiring and informing us to practice law with awareness and intention. Continue reading

Lunch with Looms: Connecting Programs to Create Community

loom with weaving

Middle school – what does it bring up in your mind? For me, and most of my friends, those days were a struggle. I felt awkward, insecure, and was bullied throughout my 7th and 8th grade years by both girls and boys, so much so that I often pretended I was sick just to sit in the peace and quiet of the nurse’s room. Though it was really tough, there were certain realities that I didn’t have to deal with: phones were at home and still attached to cords and there was no internet. School shootings were non-existent in the early 1980’s in Wisconsin and Ohio. Now a parent of a middle school boy, amidst the constant news of school shootings, my troubled memories mix with the new realities. Certain questions are brought to the forefront of a parent’s mind these days: How do we keep our kids safe on… Continue reading

Positive Discipline

Contributed by Dale Gregory, co-director Broadmoor Preschool, and Kim Vanderheiden, founder of Justice Conversation. I first met “Teacher Dale” as a new parent participating in a local co-op preschool known as Broadmoor. Over the next four years, I watched as Teacher Dale and her co-director Teacher Colleen guided parents as well as children with a patience and care that made a cohesive community out of families with tremendously varied backgrounds. Dale’s knowledge of child development is rich, extensive, and continually expanding. With compassion and realism, She and Colleen have provided countless parents with added positive tools to pull out in difficult situations with their children. Dale also has a strong interest in justice, values restorative justice practices, and has a ready grasp of the connection between family discipline and problem solving and the larger practices of justice in our society. When I began this site, I knew I had to… Continue reading