1. What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative justice is a system of justice that focuses on giving offenders the opportunity to repair the harm that they’ve caused through their actions rather than on punishing them. It is carried out through a cooperative process involving stakeholders in coming to a resolution to repair the harm done to individuals, relationships, and the community.
Rather than simply defining an offense as something wrong to be punished and measuring success by how much punishment is imposed for these offenses like the traditional justice system, restorative justice seeks to restore the damage done by the offense and measures its success by the amount of harm that is repaired or prevented.
2. Who are the stakeholders?
Stakeholders in the restorative justice process include the victim(s), the offender(s), and all other interested parties, which can include friends and family of the victim(s) and offender(s), as well as other community members, such as neighbors, teachers, coworkers, or governmental bodies.
3. How does restorative justice “repair harm”?
How the harm caused by an offense is repaired will vary depending on the nature of the offense, its surrounding circumstances, and the needs of the stakeholders involved.
Some ways that victims, offenders, and stakeholders can agree upon to repair harm can include restitution (e.g. to recover repairs or replacement of property), more information surrounding the offense (e.g. why did you choose to victimize me?), a verbal or written apology, and/or service to the community.
4. What if the victim does not want to participate?
The restorative justice process seeks to give victims the opportunity to participate in a dialogue with offenders and other affected members in the community and come to a cooperative solution. This participation is entirely voluntary.
In the case that victims and/or offenders do not want to meet one another, they may participate in unilateral restorative conferences with a mediator in which they can voice their thoughts and feelings surrounding an offense, and come to a decision on how to move forward in addressing the harm.
5. Is restorative justice “soft” on crime?
While criticisms of restorative justice often accuse it of being “soft” in its approach to offenders in comparison to traditional justice, in reality, restorative justice demands more active participation on the part of the offender in the taking responsibility for their actions They are required to directly hold themselves accountable for their actions to the victims and the community, as opposed to having a legal representative speak on their behalf, and must deal directly with addressing and repairing the harm they have caused with their offense.
6. Can restorative justice be used for serious crimes?
The need for reconciliation between victims, offenders, and the broader community that restorative justice offers is relevant in the case of all offenses, its impact tends to be even more profound in repairing harm for the stakeholders involved in the case of serious offenses.
7. What are the benefits of restorative justice?
- Substantially reduces repeat offending for most offenders
- Reduces repeat offending more than prison for adults and at least as well as prison for youth
- Reduces victims’ post-traumatic stress symptoms and reduces their fears of being re-victimized
- Reduces victims’ desire for violent revenge against their offenders
- Provides both victims and offenders with more satisfactory outcomes than those delivered through traditional criminal justice methods
8. What are the current offerings for restorative justice services?
If you would be interested in utilizing restorative justice practices, we are currently taking referrals for the following services