Restorative Justice Conferencing is process which provides interested victims of crime the opportunity to meet the offender in a safe and structured setting. The primary goal of the conference is to hold the offender directly accountable for their behavior while providing important assistance and compensation to the victim.
With the assistance of a trained facilitator or mediator, the victim is able to let the offender know how the crime affected him or her, to receive answers to the questions they may have, and to be directly involved in developing a restitution plan through which an offender is accountable for the losses the victim incurred. The offender is able to take direct responsibility for their behavior, to learn the full impact of what they did, and to develop a plan for making amends to the person(s) they violated.
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 create obligations
Justice involves victims, offenders, and community members in an effort to put things right
Central focus is that victimís 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