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What is Restorative Justice?

March 02nd, 2018

What is restorative justice?

Simply defined, restorative justice is a system of criminal justice that involves rehabilitation of wrongdoers and reconciliation with the victims, with the aim of strengthening society as a whole by preventing the alienation of offenders, and helping them to reintegrate to their society. More specifically, restorative justice as a system goes beyond punishment of crime, to seeing crime as a problem not only for society but for the criminal themselves, and seeing everyone involved in a crime as someone who needs to be reconciled to a healthy way of living. Restorative justice does not deny punishment, but focuses on using punishment as a method to repair the damage caused and restoring the relationship between the offender, the sufferer, and their society.

What are the concepts behind restorative justice?

Every restorative justice program or project involves a few broad concepts. These include repairing the harm that any act of crime causes, allowing the offending and offended parties to meet and explore their perspectives and to understand the damage that has been done, and transforming the wrongdoer for the better by offering them an opportunity to see firsthand how their crimes affect the victims. By connecting offenders with the consequences of their actions, it aims to help the offender move beyond the circumstances that drove them to crime in the first place, and to understand the need for change in their lives.

What does restorative justice involve?

Restorative justice involves victims, perpetrators, and the people in their support groups working together, where appropriate, to develop mutually beneficial solutions. The success of a restorative justice program or practice is measured by how much of the damage caused by an offence or a crime is repaired. The focus is on resolving problems, reforming the offender, and creating an atmosphere that punishes crime without alienating anyone involved from the society around them.

How is restorative justice commonly used?

Restorative justice can be pursued in a number of ways. Some of the most commonly used practices include:

Mediation between the two parties – organizations create supportive environments where the victim and the criminal can discuss their perspectives. These connections can go a long way in repairing some of the loss and harm caused.

Innovative prison regimes – Several prisons are exploring ways that prisoners themselves can learn to understand the consequences of their crimes on society whilst still in prison.

Community service initiatives – offenders perform work that benefits the community at large. This allows them to gain some understanding of how they are part of a much larger society, and to see a positive impact from their work.

Family or community conferencing – This involves bringing together the families or support groups of the offenders and the victims. The advantage of conferencing is that it allows the offenders’ families to influence their future behavior in a positive way.

Restitution – This is a practice where the wrongdoer pays the victim a sum of money to compensate for their loss. Restitution is determined by a judge, or it can be worked out during conferencing or mediation.

If you are interested in the benefits of restorative justice click here.

If you are wondering does restorative justice work? Find out in our latest blog post.

what is restorative justice

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