Restorative Justice is most often considered to be a part of criminal justice, and is used as a means of reducing reoffending rates, and ensuring that victims have their questions answered. Although the system is still in its infancy, in many respects, there has been considerable research, with very positive results, and it is not only used in criminal justice to help connect victims and offenders, but is being used in schools, in the workplace, and in a number of other environments as a method of reducing and preventing conflict, and to help improve relations between different parties.
The criminal justice is perhaps the best example of the system in action. If the offender has pleaded guilty to the crime they were accused of, and if both the victim and the offender agree to the use of the restorative justice process, then a facilitator is appointed, and a means of communication is agreed between all parties.
Although this will often mean a face-to-face meeting, usually called a restorative justice conference, this is actually only one of several options that exist. Videos may be recorded, phone calls and letters may also be used, and the decision of which method is most appropriate will be agreed by all parties.
Restorative justice is meant to show offenders the effects that they have on peoples’ lives, in the hope that coming face to face with the damage and upset that they cause will prevent them from doing something similar in the future.
It is this reduction in the rate of reoffending that the government and supporters of the system hope will make it an effective solution, and that has, so far, helped make the system a success. As such, it is not only those that are accused of and have pleaded guilty in a court of law that could benefit.
Restorative justice is being used with increased frequency in schools and youth offender cases. In schools, the system is seen as offering a proactive means of helping children to resolve conflict between themselves, and not only does this help to reduce the number of instances of bullying and other offences committed between children at school, but it can also provide the children with essential life skills that they can use throughout their childhood and adult lives to help them cope with a wider range of circumstances and situations.
Schools, and education boards, across the country have recognised its positive influence, and more have implemented restorative justice practices in schools.
In The Workplace
Unfortunately, inappropriate behaviour does occur at work, and not only can this lead to action being taken, but it also means that some individuals are left with questions that they feel need answering. Furthermore, the offenders may not be fully aware of the impact that they have had on the victim’s life.
Going to work in this kind of situation can have a serious, negative impact on a person’s life, leading to problems at home and throughout their daily life, not just at work. Restorative justice in the workplace can help minimise these cases, improve the relationships between team members, and create more effective and stronger teams.
Other Applications For Restorative Justice
Restorative justice may also be used in the community, meaning that it would typically be used before cases reach the courts, and there is growing evidence to suggest that it might prove more effective than community orders and similar punishments.
It has even been used to resolve cases that are brought against the police, to help resolve instances of medical and criminal negligence, and in many other cases. The potential and scope for the use of restorative justice is what has helped make it such a potent and potentially beneficial system.