Restorative Justice Process
Restoring Youth: Creative Courts & Caring Communities
Restorative Processes bring those harmed by crime or conflict and those responsible for the harm into communication, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward. These are an alternative approach to justice that focuses on restitution and the needs of both victims and offenders and satisfying legal principles. Indeed, a system based on restorative justice principles heavily relies on conflict resolution through telling the truth, acknowledging responsibility, and creating accountability.
RJ asks three questions: What is the nature of the harm resulting from the event? What needs to be done to “make it right” or repair the harm? Who is responsible for this repair?
The fundamental hypothesis of restorative practices is disarmingly simple: that human beings are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make changes in their behavior when those in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.
At the root of the concept of restorative justice is the notion that a crime not only violates some particular legal statute, but also harms not only the victim but also his or her family and the community at large. Because of this, the offender is presumed to have offended against more than one person.
The direct policy implication emerging from restorative justice theory is the restoration of the human bond or relationship among the offender, the victim and the community. Critical for the success of restorative justice is the victim’s ability, interest, and willingness to forgive. Also critical is the offender accepting responsibility, feeling shamed, showing true remorse and committing to change his or her behavior in the future. The elements of restitution, resolution and, ultimately, reintegration are key principles of this philosophy.
But restorative justice places a strong burden on the victim, broadly defined, to look past the harm done and instead, to forgive the offender while expressing a desire that the offender recognize the harm he or she caused to more than just one person and to truly change. Gandhi said: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Restorative justice is a different way to do justice, one that may actually be more helpful for both the victim and the offender. Instead of simply punishing for the sake of punishing, restorative justice considers how punishment is to be delivered and offers a path forward if, and only if, the offender is truly remorseful.
In this regard, restorative justice should not been seen as going soft on offenders. They still should — and do — get punished. But it reminds us that there are other ways of punishing that say more about us as human beings capable of doing incredibly difficult things.
And a recent analysis of studies investigating the effectiveness of restorative justice programs shows that such programs, when compared to traditional punishment, can reduce future offenses and give victims greater satisfaction.
Alex R. Piquero is a professor of criminology and associate dean of graduate programs in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas.
See Below: Research
These videos have been previewed by Piedmont Mediation Center, Inc. and are among the best available to introduce Restorative Justice to a community. Please select the video that is most appropriate for your profession or level of involvement with Piedmont Mediation Center (or watch them all!).
Legislative and comprehensive use of Restorative Justice
Police perspective of referrals and involvement with offenders
A youth offender’s story (juvenile criminal charges)
School re-entry circle process after incarceration
Juvenile conference in action
Restorative Justice and schools
School Resource Officer, Sexting, and Restorative Justice
Power-point from Office of Juvenile Justice
Research has found that RJ programs provide higher levels of satisfaction with the process and outcome and a greater likelihood of successful restitution completion by the offender than traditional justice programs. Research has also shown that RJ programs have reduced fear among victims and decreased the frequency and severity of further criminal behavior among offenders.
Restorative Justice: The Evidence, Smith Institute, Meta-Analysis 2007
"The evidence clearly suggests that RJ is a promsing strategy for addressing many of the current problems of the criminal justice system. More important, it is a strategy that has been subjected to rigorous testing. RJ does not undermine the rule of law."
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Fall 2011, Journel of Juvenile Justice, Restorative Justice (page 17)
"At every rung on the ladder of interventions (school staff, school administration, SRO/police, Juvenile Justice, court) RJ has a way of prevening higher up casework; handling cases earlier rather than later results in significant case-load relief to governmental agencies. It lowers crime and recidivism rates, reduces higher level interventions, there is cost savings, and reintegrates youth offenders into the community."
Restorative Conferences Reduce Trauma From Crime 2006
"Conferences reduce the psychologically traumatic effects of crime."
United Nationsl Panel Recommends Changes to US School Discipline 2016
"We recommend the Government develop guidelines on how to ensure school discipline policies and practices are in compliance with international human rights standards. PBIS and Restorative Practices in school discipline should be used for reducing disciplinary incidents and improving learning in schools."
A Blueprint for Youth Justice Reform, 2016
"Overwhelming, evidence proves that reliance on punishment and incarceration, rather than restorative justice and rehabilitation, is harmful to young people and is associated with increased rates of re-offending, strained family relationships, lower educational and vocational attainment, and incarceration later in life. We are committed to partnering with the broader community to promote restorative justice."
International Police Executive Symposium, Integrating Restorative Justice with the School Resource Officer Model, 2007
"RJ keeps kids in schools and lets you continually challenge their behavior. Exclusion just makes things look less visible, as if the problem's gone away until such time that a crime has been reported."
Creating a Nonviolent Juvenile Justice System, 2013, International Council on Violence Against Children
National laws, policies and practices should facilitate RJ responses wherever possible and appropriate."
School Discipline Consensus Report, Justice Center, 2014
"RJ also provides students with meaningful opportunities to be accountable for their actions and responsible for helping to make their school a safe and nurturing place. Students are taught basic social skills to problem solve and de-escalate conflict, thereby contributing to healthier school climates."
Stemming the School to Prison Pipeline, Applying RJ Principles to School Discipline Practices, Webinar 2014
"RJ helps educators, juvenile justice professionals, and community members collectively and collaboratively reengage youth in school and keep them off the street and out of the juvenile justice system."
Victim/Offender Programs, Promising Victim Related Practices in Probation and Parole, Office for Victims of Crime
"RJ attempts to draw upon the strengths of both offenders and victims, rather than focusing upon their deficits."
Center for Juvenile Justice Reform: Improving the Effectiveness of Juvenile Justice Programs (used in NC-JCPC funding)
"A contrasting philosophy involves attempts to bring about behavior change by facilitating personal development through improved skills, relationships, insight, and the like. This therapeutic philosophy includes: restorative (e.g., victim-offender mediation)"
Family Group Conferencing: Implications for Crime Victims
"A wider circle of people is recognized as being victimized by the offense."
Investing to Improve the Well-Being of Vulnerable Youth and Young Adults, Youth Transition Funders Group
"Incorporate positive behavioral interventions and utilize Restorative Justice practices."
Employing Mediation to Approach Truants, Family Court Review 2005
"Mediation can address problems that obstruct students' paths to obtaining an education, and resolve dilemmas which normally go undetected and become causes of more tragic outcomes."