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What Are The Consequences Of Restorative Justice

August 23rd, 2018

Restorative justice is an approach to justice and problem solving that emphasizes collaboration, restoration, and rehabilitation of the perpetrator after an incident has occurred - in order to solve the root cause of the offense, rather than simply punish the offender. So what are the consequences of restorative justice?

This idea is not new, and has seen a resurgence since the 1960s. One of the best examples of restorative justice was the South African Truth & Reconciliation Committee, which was formed after Apartheid. Rather than simply punishing perpetrators of human rights offenses, victims of abuse testified - and the perpetrators were allowed to give their own testimony, and request amnesty for their actions.

So, what are the positive consequences of restorative justice? Why is it such a powerful tool, and why should more countries, cities, and legislative bodies begin attempting to integrate a restorative process into their legal system? Let's look at a few restorative justice consequences now.

1. Greater Comfort and Peace Of Mind For Victims

Though some traditional criminology experts may claim that punitive justice does more for the peace of mind of a victim, this is not the case. It was found, in a systematic review of available research, that restorative justice had a number of positive benefits for victims, including:

  • An easier time returning to work, resume their normal day-to-day activities, and sleep after being subjected to violence or abuse
  • Reduced fear of violent offenders, and an increased sense of security
  • Lower levels of anger towards the offender, more sympathy both for the offender and their supporters
  • Great levels of trust in others
  • Reduced anxiety and increased feelings of self confidence

It was found, in almost all cases, that restorative justice helped victims become more confident after being subject to violence, abuse or mistreatment, and that it had a number of healthy and positive effects on their lives.

2. Reduced Levels Of Recidivism

Reduction of recidivism - criminals reoffending after being punished - must be a key aspect of our justice systems. Our goal should never be simply to lock a criminal up for years and throw away the key - robbing them of the tools they would need to succeed in the real world, and live a normal life. But, unfortunately, that is exactly what punitive justice does.

It has been shown in multiple studies that restorative justice has lower levels of recidivism, compared to punitive justice.

This is because restorative justice focuses on rehabilitation and understanding - not just punishment. It must be understood that, for the vast majority of criminal cases, the crime itself is not what must be addressed. What must be addressed is the cause of the crime - to ensure that it does not recur.

3. More Victims Are Willing To Participate

Victim participation can be a problem for restorative justice programs. But as the positive effects of restorative justice and it's benefits become more clear, more people will be willing to participate in meditation sessions and restorative justice - which can help encourage more widespread adoption, and a more healthy society.

As the process becomes more widespread, and victims understand the benefits that restorative and rehabilitative justice has for society at-large, it will become a viable alternative to punitive justice.

This, in turn, will have positive effects both on victims of crime, who can more easily lead normal lives, and perpetrators, who are less likely to reoffend after going through the process of restorative justice.

Restorative Justice - The Path Forward In America

As our prisons continue to fill up with individuals serving long sentences for minor crimes, it has become more and more clear that things cannot continue as they are. Restorative justice can be one of the ways in which victims and criminals can take control of their lives, and address crimes not with punishment - but with understanding.

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