Restorative Justice

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Restorative justice acknowledges that crime affects the persons directly involved as well as the community. This is in contrast to the traditional punitive justice system, where crime is treated as an offense against the state.

A restorative justice approach has traditionally been used by indigenous communities to maintain a unified community, while holding standards of conduct and addressing harms done to its community members and the community as a whole.


Principles of restorative justice

Restorative justice helps victims, survivors, offenders, and communities to take a pro-active approach to crime and engages all parties involved in the healing process after a crime has been committed.

  • Restorative justice can be utilized in crimes of severe violence or non-violent crimes as well as with juvenile offenders.
  • Restorative justice is an approach to crime which puts the victim or the victim’s family first and fully acknowledges the harm caused by the offender.
  • The restorative justice process facilitates the offender in taking full responsibility for their actions by creating a direct or indirect dialogue with the victim, the victim’s family and/or the community.
  • A restorative justice approach seeks to support the victim and/or their family in expressing the harm done and fulfilling their needs as a result of the crime.
  • Restorative justice is an approach that supports the community in healing from the crime.
  • Restorative justice expects the offender to take full responsibility for their actions and assists them in taking steps to find solutions to help heal the harm they have caused.

Restorative justice approaches

Restorative justice is not a particular program but is an approach to justice. Some common restorative justice programs include:

  • Restorative school discipline & anti-bullying programs
  • Truth and reconciliation commissions
  • Peace-making circles
  • Community justice programs
  • Family-group conferencing
  • Sentencing circles
  • Restorative community service
  • Victim-offender conferencing
  • Victim-offender mediation and dialog



See also


Author: J Kim Wright