What is Restorative Justice?
What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice involves working with people who have been affected by crime in a way that focuses more on the harm done to the victim than the law that was broken. It seeks to repair that harm by providing a forum for the victim and/or the community to address their issues with offenders in a safe and non-threatening way.The objectives are to meet the needs of victims of crime, challenge offenders to put right the harm they have caused and desist from further offending behaviour so that they make take their place again as law abiding members of the community.
While Restorative Justice is not always suitable for every victim, every offender or every offence, international research indicates a high satisfaction rating among victims who participate in restorative programmes. Research also shows that Restorative Justice positively impacts on recidivism rates amongst certain categories of offenders and offences. Restorative Justice promotes and facilitates partnership, greater understanding and co-operation between the community, voluntary and statutory sectors and organisations directly involved in the criminal justice process.
Restorative Justice asks
• Who has been harmed?
• What needs to be done to repair the harm?
• Who should repair the harm?
• How might this be done?
Restorative Justice acknowledges that
• Crime hurts victims and their families
• Crime affects the offender – their family, and the wider community
• The victims voice should be heard
• The offender needs to accept responsibility and repair the harm caused
Is it the soft option for Offenders?
No. Offenders have to take full responsibility for their actions and behaviour and attain greater understanding of the consequences for the person(s) they have harmed. In some cases they meet with their victims to hear directly how they have affected that person. In this forum they cam also make a personal apology and answer any questions the victim may have in relation to the offence. They are required to make challenging choices and decisions on how best to desist from further offending behaviour and give written commitments to the Court to remain crime free.
Meeting a victim and making reparation is not a soft option for an offender – but it is not necessarily done because it’s a hard option – it’s done because it can be a significant step in making things better.
Why is voluntary participation important?
Voluntary participation is considered by many restorative practitioners to be an important factor in reducing the possibility of revictimisation and enhancing the possibility of a meaningful engagement by an offender that will meet the requirements of the victim. An offender who is willingly engaging in a restorative process is far more likely to be genuinely responsive to the needs and requests of a victim and open to addressing their own offending behaviour.