Restorative Justice

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Restorative Justice

Restorative justice is a phrase that is known only in small, concentrated pockets of the United States and other parts of the world. It is well known in alternative dispute resolution circles and in juvenile courts. Restorative justice, versus punitive justice, aims to heal, restore and reconcile, while punitive justice seeks punishment and revenge. Examples of restorative justice are, healing circles, transformational justice, transformative mediation, some collaborative processes, and even “conscious capitalism.” Restorative justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.

Meetings between victims, their offenders, and members of the affected community are important ways to address the relational dimension of crime and justice. It is accepted that the following three methods are hallmarks of restorative justice. Each requires that the offender admit responsibility for the offence. Each is limited to parties who volunteer to participate.

Victim offender mediation. This is a process that provides an interested victim the opportunity to meet his offender in a safe and structured setting, engaging in a discussion of the crime with the assistance of a trained mediator. The goals of victim offender mediation include: permitting victims to meet their offenders on a voluntary basis, encouraging the offender to learn about the crime's impact and to take responsibility for the resulting harm, and providing victim and offender the opportunity to develop a plan that addresses the harm.

Research on such programs has found higher satisfaction among victims and offenders who participated in mediation, lower fear among victims, a greater likelihood that the offender will complete a restitution obligation, and fewer offenders committing new offences, than among...
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