What is meant by the term Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice is a way of thinking about the justice process and its key stakeholders: victims, offenders, communities, and justice professionals. Restorative justice recognizes that crime is a vio-lation of real people who are hurt by crime in very real and often lasting ways. The underlying principle of Restorative Justice is identifying ways to repair the harm caused by crime.
How is restorative justice different from the usual way justice is determined?
Historically, those who are most impacted by crime have been left out of the justice process. Of-ten, victims have been relegated to the sidelines while others in the justice system have made de-cisions that affected their lives and well being in very real ways. Restorative justice identifies vic-tims as key stakeholders in the justice process and ensures that they are informed, involved, and have opportunities to directly participate.
Why would that be better than simply sending the offender to prison?
Using restorative justice does not necessarily ex-clude a prison sentence, but it does give a new meaning to the term “pay one’s debt to society.” Under restorative justice, an offender can recog-nize their debt to the victim and the community. They are encouraged to accept responsibility and try to make amends directly to those who have been hurt by their crime. (Source: Prison Fellowship In-ternational, www.pficjr.org)
What are some examples of restorative justice?
Victim offender dialogue, community service, citizen circles, and victim awareness/impact classes are just a few examples of restorative practices taking place in prisons, adult parole offices, and local communities.
Do offenders get “credit” for participat-ing in RJ activities?
Participation in restorative practices is volun-tary for both victims and offenders. Offenders do not receive “credit” for their participation and it does not affect their chances of receiving parole or any type of early release.
Why would a victim want to speak to of-fenders?
Some victims, not all, have a desire to speak to the offender so they may tell him or her exactly how their life has been affected. Some also have questions about the crime that only the offender can answer. “Why did you choose my daugh-ter?” What were my son’s last words?” What exactly happened when you broke into my mother’s home?” Often, these questions were not answered during the formal court process.
How does restorative justice apply to my job and me?
Restorative Justice is a way of thinking, not one particular program. Whether you work as a corrections officer, a teacher, a parole officer or a substance abuse coordinator, the idea of re-storative justice can be applied in any setting. Each of us should operate with an understand-ing of how our behavior affects all stakeholders and a willingness to seek restorative ap-proaches in our daily responsibilities.
What role can community members and or civic groups play in restorative justice?
Community members are a vital piece of the restorative justice puzzle. Both victims and of-fenders need the support of their community as they work to move forward in their lives. There are many roles community members can fill. A few examples are serving as mentors, provid-ing employment opportunities, spiritual guid-ance and much needed input and insight in de-cisions made within the justice system.
What does making amends mean?
True offender accountability is not only accepting responsibility for one’s criminal behavior, but also taking steps toward repairing the harm. Some offenders participate in community service projects related to their crime. Others may pay restitution or make formal apologies to those they’ve hurt. Amends can take many shapes and forms depending on the circumstances of a crime.
Does restorative justice actually work?
Most definitely. Its success has been seen around the globe and the increase in the use of such re-storative measures as mediation in civil, matri-monial, family, labor, and other conflict situa-tions is a testimony of its effectiveness. Results, to date, indicate that victims who have participated in a restorative justice program experienced a far higher rate of satisfaction than they had previ-ously gained from the mainstream justice system. Often, such an experience can be the key to heal-ing and being able to achieve closure. Offenders are often inspired to make whatever steps are necessary to change their lives in positive ways to make amends. This all helps to build community peace. (Source: Prison Fellowship International, www.pficjr.org)
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