Restorative justice (also sometimes called reparative justice) is an approach to justice that focuses on the needs of the victims and the offenders, as well as the involved community, instead of satisfying abstract legal principles or punishing the offender. Victims take an active role in the process, while offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, “to repair the harm they’ve done–by apologizing, returning stolen money, or community service”. Restorative justice involves both victim and offender and focuses on their personal needs. In addition, it provides help for the offender in order to avoid future offences. It is based on a theory of justice that considers crime and wrongdoing to be an offence against an individual or community, rather than the state. ~Wikipedia
Click here to read a research study funded by the National Institute of Justice on how the collateral consequences of laws increase recidivism.
Restorative justice emphasizes repairing the harm caused by crime. When victims, offenders and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results can be transformational. ~www.restorativejustice.org
Restorative justice is the practice of a process which, once learned, continiually empowers a person to resolve conflict proactively. In the instance where harm has been done, restorative justice recognizes that meaningful reparations are important and necessary, yet challenges the victim and the culprit to develop empathy for each other and seek a mutually satisfactory resolution. Restorative justice adopts some techniques of the circle practice that is a way of life for indigenous cultures, fostering collaboration. When in the circle, each person speaks without interruption, for example, to show mutual respect.
We know — from scads of research data grounded in tons of hands-on experience — that zero-tolerance ‘tough on crime’ policies do not make us safer and in fact escalate the root-causes of crime putting all of us at increased risk. Still, restorative practices are NOT a quick fix but an ongoing long-haul process.
“Three of every four new criminal convictions in England and Wales are reconvictions of previously convicted offenders. At the least, this fact suggests a missed opportunity for more effective and preventive sentencing practices. … At the worst, it suggests that the criminal justice system itself is a cause of crime. … Restorative justice, at least in principle, seeks ways for victims and offenders to co-operate in preventing future crime and repairing past harms” ~Dr. Lawrence W. Sherman and Dr. Heather Strang, longtime researchers on the effectiveness of restorative justice, major new study: “Restorative Justice: The Evidence.” (p. 12, Chapter 1).
- Law Day (pictorial)
- Forrest City Reentry Fair (report)
- Reflections and Understanding (analysis)
- Women Against Registry (report)