Restorative Justice is an approach to address crime or conflict.
Restorative justice is an approach to address crime or conflict. It focuses on the needs of victims to heal from harm they incurred; it increases offender accountability to repair the actual harm caused; and includes impacted community members to assist all in developing terms of how to best move forward. When victims, offenders and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results can be transformational.
Using Restorative Justice principles seeks to achieve justice by involving, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense or harm to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations in order to heal and put things as right as possible.
Goals of Restorative Justice
- Put key decisions into the hands of those most affected by the crime or harm done;
- Make justice more healing and ideally, more transformative;
- Reduce the likelihood of future offenses.
What Restorative Justice is Not
- Restorative Justice in not primarily about forgiveness or reconciliation. While this may be a by-product of this process it is completely up to the individuals involved. This process puts no pressure to forgive or seek reconciliation of the individual(s).
- Restorative Justice does not necessarily imply a return to past circumstances meaning it is not a returning to something before the event took place. The situation needs to be transformed, not restored. It is not returning to the status quo as much as it is going forward into restored wholeness with self and community.
- Restorative Justice is not mediation. Mediation implies two parties on equal footing whereas an RJ panel/neighborhood court acknowledges that there are definitive offenders and victims of harm. RJ is set in a conference setting or panel dialogue and not a form of true mediation.