What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice (RJ) is based on a theory of justice that focuses on crime and wrong-doing as acted against the individual or community rather than the state. It emphasizes repairing harm caused or revealed by criminal behavior. In RJ processes, the person who has done harm (offender) and the person who has been harmed (victim) take an active role. The victim may receive an apology, direct reparation or indirect action to restore or fix the damage. Restorative Justice involves a fostering of dialogue between the offender and the victim, and has shown the highest rates of victim satisfaction, true accountability by the offender, and reduced recidivism.
How Restorative Justice works
Victims of crime are given the opportunity to meet with offenders in the presence of trained volunteer facilitators, in addition to family and other community members. The victims are supported in getting answers to their questions about the crime and the offender; which allows the offender to learn about the impact of the crime on the victim, his/her family and the community.
The young offender (ages 10-24) is held accountable for his/her choices and behavior in regards to the incident. In the restorative circles, a contract is reached for restitution or other pro-social action, which is agreed upon 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 movement that holds offenders accountable, but also offers a chance for forgiveness, reconciliation and the ability to move past the shame – leading to better connections to community.
Who are the stakeholders?
- Have a voice in exactly how the offender can repair the harm
- Have the therapeutic opportunity to process and share their feelings about what happened
- Are able to move toward the process of forgiveness and healing
- Are held responsible for their actions by taking action to repair the harm
- Are given the opportunity to be part of the solution
- Develop an understanding of the impact their actions have on others
- Are encouraged to see themselves as being members of a community
Families and Community Members
- Have the opportunity to share their feelings about the crime that was committed
- Have a voice in how the offender can repair the harm
- Have the opportunity to be a part of a process that builds stronger communities
- Have the opportunity to strengthen their relationship with the Eleventh Judicial District’s youth and the community