The Restorative Justice Theory Can Change Your Life for the Better
March 26th, 2019
Restorative Justice Theory is a modern approach to criminal behavior that centers around facilitating meetings between those who have committed a crime, the victims, and often the larger community impacted by crime. Under Restorative Justice Theory, the offender is encouraged to accept responsibility for their actions while also giving them a chance to redeem themselves. Victims are given the opportunity to speak with the offender and be given apologies and a path to making amends from the offender.
The term Restorative Justice first appeared in the writings of Albert Eglash, who outlined three types of justice: retributive (based around punishment), distributive (involved with therapeutically treating offenders), and restorative (focused on restitution with input and communication from both offenders and victims).
The seminal book on Restorative Justice Theory is Howard Zehr’s 1990 work Changing Lenses : a New Focus for Crime and Justice. In the book, Zehr examines the role of restorative justice in many indigenous cultures, including the Maori of New Zealand and First Nations peoples of Canada. He argues that restorative justice was often overlooked or discounted by Western colonial powers, which led to a lack of restorative justice in many Western nations.
Thanks, in great part, to Zehr’s writing, the term “Restorative Justice” as a concept was in widespread use by the early 2000s, which adherents and supporters from all walks of life. Various states in the US have non-profit organizations dedicated to restorative justice, and the European Union has recognized the importance of incorporating restorative justice into criminal reform measures.
For Californians interested in learning more about Restorative Justice, Restorative Partners is a non-profit organization dedicated to practicing Restorative Justice for California residents out of San Luis Obispo.
Restorative Partners embodies many of the pillars of Restorative Justice by offering training programs for newly released offenders, to reduce recidivism, or committing additional crimes after being released from jail, including culinary training programs and various internship programs. They also have re-entry programs that help offenders to find safe and sustainable housing, and chemical dependency treatment services and shelter if needed.
They also have various programs for currently incarcerated individuals, including non-violence workshops, art classes for healthy expression, gardening classes for exercise and nurturing behavior, spiritual classes for inmates of various faiths and spiritualities, computer programming classes for job skills, and more.
Restorative Partners is always looking for volunteers to help with their numerous classes, programs, and activities. Are you interested in learning more? Please take the time to apply or contact them directly if you have questions.
For those living outside of California but who are interested in supporting Restorative Justice work, there are many ways to support Restorative Partners. When shopping with Amazon, be sure to use smile.amazon.com and select Restorative Partners as the recipient of Amazon’s donation dollars for your orders. You can also directly donate through monthly or annual gifts to their website Finally, they are always in need of working used cars for recently released inmates. The lack of a vehicle is a considerable obstacle for obtaining gainful, steady employment, getting children to child care, and reaching grocery stores for healthy food.
Restorative Justice has made big steps since its introduction in 1977, but there is always more work to do. If you are in California, please reach out to Restorative Partners. If you are outside California, or even outside the United States, please research restorative justice efforts in your area.