About Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice is a philosophy that views crime as a violation of relationships and people. The aim of Restorative Justice is to identify responsibilities, meet needs, and promote healing through the involvement of people most directly impacted by harm and community members.

Restorative Justice asks…

  • What happened?
  • Who was harmed?
  • What are their needs?
  • What needs to happen in order to repair the harm?
  • Who is obligated to make amends?

The emphasis in Restorative Justice is on the harm that has been created and the unmet needs of those most directly affected. It requires a wrongdoer to accept responsibility for their actions by repairing, as much as possible, the harm caused by the crime or wrongdoing. The practice of Restorative Justice happens through dialogue between the wrongdoer, families, those who have been harmed, and community members designed to provide opportunity for each participant to share how they have been impacted and to make an agreement on what reparations seem appropriate.

Justice is being done in a restorative manner when it:

  • Focuses on crime’s harm rather than rules broken.
  • Shows equal concern for victims and offenders and involves both.
  • Works toward restoring victims, empowering them, and responding to their needs as the victims themselves see them.
  • Supports offenders while encouraging them to understand, accept and carry out their obligations.
  • Recognizes that while offenders’ obligations may be difficult, they should not be intended as pain.
  • Provides opportunities for direct or indirect dialogue between victims and offenders – as appropriate.
  • Finds meaningful ways to involve the community and to respond to the causes of crime in the community.
  • Encourages collaboration and reintegration rather than coercion and isolation for the offenders.
  • Pays attention to unintended consequences arising from restorative justice efforts.
  • Respects all parties in the conflict – victims, offenders, and justice colleagues.

Source: [Restorative Justice Signposts- Harry Mika and Howard Zeir (1998)]