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What Are the Benefits of Restorative Justice Programs?

November 01st, 2017

A restorative justice program focuses on bridging the gap between offenders and their victims in particular and the community in general. By enabling offenders to communicate with those they wronged, and by helping them to restore a sense of connection to their community, restorative justice is designed to help move past punishment and transform the offenders by helping them to grow into law-abiding citizens.

There are several kinds of programs that have been put together across the country. Depending on who the target group is, there are jail programs, juvenile programs, women-oriented restorative justice plans, and re-entry housing programs – each with different aims, and different benefits.

Restorative justice helps the victims of crime:

Victims of crime not only need justice to be done, but they also need a way to move past the crime that happened to them and live full lives by overcoming the trauma of crime:

  • An opportunity to express their pain – This is one of the first steps to recovering from a traumatic experience. By enabling a conversation between the offender and the victim (either in person, or by other means), restorative justice programs allow a victim to initiate dialogue and express how they have been affected.
  • Victim empowerment – When victims are given a chance to tell their tale and interact with the people who wronged them, it helps them to be heard. This can be incredibly powerful, because it helps victims cease to be victimized, and to take control of their process of healing and recovery.
  • Victim Satisfaction – When executed effectively, restorative justice results in victim satisfaction and recovery. Whatever the trauma, these programs help victims to actively work towards recovering their sense of normality, peace of mind, and security.

Restorative justice helps offenders by:

A big part of any restorative justice program is about helping offenders turn over a new leaf. This isn’t just about practicing positivity; there are a number of clear benefits that make it less likely that offenders will reoffend, including:

  • A chance to apologize – A genuine apology is the first step towards reform. By allowing an offender to understand how their actions impacted their victim, these programs help the offender to step into the shoes of the person they have harmed, and understand what they went through. By increasing empathy, this makes it less likely that offenders will underestimate what their actions do to others.
  • An opportunity to change – This is one of the most compelling advantages of a restorative justice program. By encouraging inmates and offenders to turn over a new leaf, and by enrolling them in group activities and programs that prevent them from being isolated and showing them how to live differently, restorative justice helps offenders to change their lives.
  • Swift resolution of issues – The criminal justice system can take years to try offeenders, and hand down sentences. Punishment alone is slow, and offers no opportunity for change. Restorative justice programs, on the other hand, offer offenders a chance to make a meaningful change to their lives more quickly.

Above all, restorative justice programs minimize recidivism – fewer offenders who have been part of restorative justice programs reoffend. By enabling a more holistic approach to justice, which addresses not only crime and punishment but also the cause and impact of crime, restorative justice works towards a healthier community made up of healthier individuals.

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