Restorative Justice is based on a theory of justice that focuses on crime and wrong-doing as acts against the individual or community rather than the state. It emphasizes repairing harm caused or revealed by criminal behavior. In Restorative Justice processes, the person who has done harm (defendant) and the person who has been harmed (victim/survivor) take an active role. The victim/survivor may receive an apology, direct reparation or indirect action to restore or heal what has occurred to the extent possible. Restorative Justice involves a fostering of dialogue between the defendant and the victim/survivor, and has shown the highest rates of victim/survivor satisfaction, true accountability by those who have caused harm, and reduced recidivism.
Victims/Survivors of crime and harm are given the opportunity to meet with those who harmed them in the presence of trained restorative justice facilitators. They also have the option to invite supportive family, friends, experts and other community members. The victims/survivors are supported in getting answers to their questions about the crime and the defendant; and those who caused harm learn about the impact of the crime on the victim/survivor, family members, the community and to themselves.
Defendants must be willing to hold themselves accountable for their choices and behavior during the incident. In the restorative conferences, an agreement is reached by all members present. This restorative justice dialogue often leads to a greater sense of closure and healing for all involved. In light of these outcomes, restorative justice is often regarded as a set of values and practices that require accountable from defendants while also offering a chance for closure, reconciliation and the ability to move past the shame – leading to increased empathy and community connectedness.
Families and Community Members