What Is Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice is seen as a process that is designed to help give victims answers to the questions that they have about the crime that they suffered, to show criminals the effects of the crimes that they commit, and also to bring greater public confidence in the justice system.

When most people think of restorative justice, they think of meetings between victim and criminal, where the two parties sit down to discuss the crime, what led to the criminal committing the crime, and why the criminal chose the particular victim. It is hoped that the system will help to set the victim’s mind at ease, rehabilitate the offender so that they understand exactly how they have affected the lives of their victims, and provide a greater sense of justice to the whole community.

Statistics Show Success

There is considerable research that indicates that restorative justice works, and it is not only used in criminal justice cases, but is being implemented in youth offence cases, in schools, and even in places of employment, in the hope that it can help to resolve conflicts and even prevent young people from taking the first steps down the route towards a life of crime. Research has also shown that the system offers direct cash savings, as well as considerable benefits to those that suffer as the victims of crime.

Restorative Justice Conferences

The meeting between victim and offender is typically referred to as a restorative justice conference. There may be cases where a face-to-face, direct meeting is not considered the best option, and in these instances, the restorative justice facilitator may arrange for other forms of communication to be used; for example, letters and phone calls may prove a more viable alternative to a personal meeting.

The Restorative Justice Council

The Restorative Justice Council is the body that ensures the effective application of a high quality restorative justice process. It is they that licence organisations that uphold the highest possible standards in restorative justice practice, and it is they that outline these best practices to try and ensure greater clarity and transparency within the process.

Viability

There are certain facts that must be established before a restorative justice conference can take place. The offender must have admitted to the crime that they are accused, and both the victim and the offender must have agreed to the conference taking place. If there is no admission of guilt, or if either party does not agree to the conference, then it cannot and will not take place. The facilitator should also ensure that both parties are well prepared, that both are entering the conference for the appropriate reasons, and that the conference is indeed the best option.

Other Uses

Although restorative justice is most commonly considered to be a part of the criminal justice system, it is being used in schools and other establishments with greater frequency, and with very promising results. In these instances, often where the victim and offender are required to continue to co-exist following an incident, the increased communication between both parties can help to resolve any issues that might exist and ensure that communication is increased.

It can prevent further conflict in schools, it can provide conflict resolution, and it can even help to prevent children from repeat offending while they are young and even once they reach adulthood.

Continued Improvements And Advances

Restorative justice is widely considered a success. An 85% victim satisfaction rate, and a 14% reduction in the rate of re-offending are figures that are frequently held up by the government and the justice system as evidence that the system really does work, and there is still some way to go, in terms of making improvements and generating the best possible results.