What is restorative justice?
Restorative Justice looks at crime in terms of harm that has been done, rather than rules which have been broken. It seeks to repair the harm caused by crime. Sometimes the harm that is done is not measurable in a court of law. Harm can be physical but it can often be emotional. Relationships and community are also harmed by crime, not just individuals.
Restorative Justice seeks to include all the people that have been affected by crime in finding solutions. It holds offenders accountable and encourages them to take responsibility for their actions. It offers victims the opportunity to ask questions that only the offender can answer, express how it affected them, and be part of determining a meaningful way to repair the harm.
The way this most often works best is by people talking face to face in a mediated process. First, a trained mediator meets with participants individually to prepare them for the meeting. In this meeting, all participants have a chance to speak about what happened and how it affected them. Often there is a change that happens when people feel heard and understood. Once this has happened, then discussing what to do and coming up with a meaningful solution comes more naturally. Offenders are more likely to fulfill restitution agreements if they have been part of this process than if it was determined by a judge.
What are the benefits of Restorative Justice?