Government ethics proceedings are usually not very satisfying for
those involved. Individuals rarely get to tell the entire story from
their point of view. Nor do they profit from hearing how others saw the situation or experienced the events. The format for ethics proceedings is
similar to the criminal justice system, with charges, a prosecution,
witnesses, documents, and the ethics commission as jury. Or a
settlement is reached, the equivalent of a plea bargain, and no
story is told at all. Or no probable cause is found, and what
happened is kept secret (or told, often in nasty little bits,
Most of what is said is said without much knowledge or understanding
of government ethics and
without truly listening to what others have to say, since they are
seen to have their own personal or political goals.
In this blog post, I will present a thought experiment
on how a restorative justice approach could be employed in
government ethics proceedings. I learned about the process from an
incredibly informative and moving feature article, by Paul Tullis,
in this week's New York Times Magazine
, entitled "Forgiven" or,
Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?
" Although my
emphasis is more on the process than on the forgiveness, the article
presents the information necessary for my thought experiment.