Long path to redemption: Restorative justice has success stories, but law doesn't require its use
Jan 25, 2010
Back in June 2005, [Jonathan] Price was 17 and looking forward to his senior year at Sand Creek High School with his "posse" a tight group of friends, mostly military brats, who had spent their high school years invading each other's houses like family, having sleepovers and playing Halo. When they were younger, they caused the "boys will be boys" brand of trouble stealing bulbs out of porch lights, ringing doorbells and running away. Now they were acting their age more often.
One day, Price and buddies Terence Henderson and Marcus (last name not available) decided to head to Price's place. Marcus called shotgun. Henderson insisted on riding on top of the trunk.
Price began driving. He rounded a curve and paused at a stop sign. That's when they noticed Henderson was gone.
The boy had fallen off the back and hit his head. A day later, he was dead.
It was hell. Not just for the Hendersons, who lost their only child, but for the entire community. Sand Creek kids, devastated, responded by threatening Price. Security had to escort him around the school.
"I was forced to grow up because I had to deal with the courts and the fees and seeing how it affected my family and his," Price remembers.
Now 21, he says the experience is still very painful. He's found comfort in his faith, community service, outreach (giving presentations describing his experience to other teens), and a restorative justice conference.
Through the latter, Price got to sit down with his family, the Hendersons and a moderator. There, Price learned he had Terence's dad's forgiveness, though Terence's mom didn't feel the same way. Either way, Price says, it was productive.
"Restorative justice really helped me to see that what I was doing was affecting someone else besides myself," he says. "Terence was a son to somebody."