Restorative Justice Principles - A New Justice Model
December 28th, 2018
Unlawful criminal activity creates a breakdown among communities, persons involved, and government. The traditional justice system has forever been known to identify the law broken and punish accordingly. Considering that unlawful persons tend to repeat their unlawful behaviors, it's time to ask ourselves if the traditional system is really all that effective.
The current justice system does very little to rehabilitate a criminal and rarely if ever, includes the parties who were impacted by the crime or behavior. The lack of attention or understanding in criminal cases leaves a vacuum resulting in continued unlawful activities. We believe in restorative justice principles to not only rehabilitate an unlawful person, but to involve all parties impacted by the person's behaviors, creating new understanding, sense of responsibility, and accountability of the unlawful person.
Let's talk about what restorative justice principles are and how they can function within the justice system.
A traditional model of justice seeks accountability in the form of punishment to the court or state. With a restorative justice model, accountability is to the persons or entities impacted by the crime. This interaction creates an interesting dynamic between unlawful persons and their victims. This principle may not always work depending on the crime or behavior but can certainly create a level of accountability that is not offered in traditional justice models.
The act of full participation of all parties involved is critical in the restorative justice principles. Participation of those affected by unlawful behavior, allows them to have direct interaction with their perpetrator in a safe and lawful environment lead by a facilitator. This allows all parties involved to work together in correcting the unlawful behavior.
In the traditional justice model, the focus is on the crime rather than the impact of that crime. This leaves very little room for a mutual understanding of how actions impact all parties involved. When the goal shifts to understanding why the behavior happened to begin with, restorative justice principles uncover the root problem in which to remedy.
Criminal justice leads to an oversimplified “eye for an eye” outcome. This outcome does very little in rebuilding communities or persons. In fact, this type of action leaves rehabilitation in the hands of the criminal and/or victim to accomplish on their own. When a restorative justice principle is used, we can ask the question, “What actions are required to result in a different outcome?” This question opens the door to identifying the actions that will help a community or persons heal and how the unlawful person is a part of that process.
Releasing an unlawful person back into a community, without a pathway of corrective behavior, can result in repeat behaviors and mistrust in law enforcement and the community. A restorative justice model seeks to reintegrate an unlawful person using the principles of trust and support so that the person doesn't feel alienated and alone.
Adopting restorative justice principles is a game-changing practice that creates stronger communities and self-reliance. It is a powerful healing option for those impacted by unlawful behavior and embraces the idea of forgiveness so those persons can move forward with their lives more successfully. Restorative justice is even more powerful for a perpetrator as they come to understand how their actions impact others and no longer have to be identified as an outcast for the days or years to come. This gives an unlawful person a pathway to correcting their behavior and ultimately becoming a positive contributor to society.