Restorative Justice is a response to crime and wrongdoing that emphasizes the repairing the harm that was created, recognizes the importance of victim, offender, and community involvement, and promote positive future behavior. The Restorative Justice conference is a process that provides the opportunity for the offender to be accountable to the victim and the community. Through this face to face encounter, assisted by a trained facilitator, the victim is able to tell the offender how the crime affected him or her, ask questions, and be directly involved with the other participants to determine what the offender needs to do to make things right. The participants will also establish the steps necessary to prevent the wrongdoing from happening again.
There are Restorative Justice Programs in every state in the U.S. Emerging in the early 1970's, Restorative Justice developed out of concerns over the disregard of the victim's needs and holding the offender truly accountable. Today, Restorative Justice approaches are spreading into school disciplinary processes, religious organizations to address wrongdoing, and communities to bring people together to share perspectives and develop collaborative solutions.
Two Different Views
Crime is a violation of the law and of the state
Violation Creates Guilt
Justice Requires the state to determine blame (guilt) and impose pain (punishment)
Central Focus is offenders getting what they deserve
Crime is a violation of people and relationships
Violations cause harm and create obligations
Justice involves victims, offenders, and community members in an effort to put things right
Central focus is that victim's needs are met and offenders take responsibility for repairing harm
Three Different Questions
What laws have been broken?
Who did it?
What do they deserve?
Who has been hurt?
What are their needs?
What can be done to repair the harm?
Research shows that with Restorative Justice Conferencing:
Victims of crime who meet with their offender are far more likely to be satisfied with the justice system response than are similar victims who go through the normal court process without Victim-Offender Conference opportunities.
After meeting the offender, victims are significantly less fearful of being re-victimized.Offenders who meet their victim/s are far more likely to successfully complete their restitution obligations and to be directly accountable to the victim for their behavior.
Considerably fewer and less serious crimes are committed by offenders who meet their victim/s