Restorative justice has made a lot of headlines in the past few years, and has even been featured heavily as storylines on TV. The process means greater involvement for the victims of crime, so that they can get their message across, hopefully reduce the impact of the crime that they were involved in, and even help ensure that offenders have a much lower chance of repeat offending in the future. The process is designed to be simple, there are many options other than face-to-face meetings, and as well as proving highly effective in criminal justice cases, it has been proven to work when used in schools, in the workplace, and even in instances of complaints against the police.
What Is It?
Restorative justice is a system of providing further justice to victims. It enables those that have been the victim of virtually any type of crime to have their questions answered, and it can help victims that have been traumatised and otherwise affected by those crimes, to come to terms with what happened. It has also been shown to lower reoffending rates by giving offenders a closer look at the effects that they have had on their victims.
The restorative justice process will vary according to the individual circumstances, and according to the wishes of the victim. It is important that the victim be the primary concern of the facilitator, and any meeting must be agreed before it can take place. Where a face-to-face meeting is not considered appropriate, it may be possible to send letters, record videos, and even partake in phone calls with the offender.
What’s The Point?
The aim of restorative justice is three-fold. The victim has a greater chance of enjoying closure, the offender is given an insight into the effects of their crime, and the community is able to witness greater justice being served.
Does It Work?
A number of studies, including one seven year study costing the government £7m, have been conducted, and all studies would suggest that the process is an effective one. 85% of victims that used the service said that they were satisfied, while a number of reports have pointed to an 800% return on investment for every £1 spent on RJ. Furthermore, reoffending rates have been shown to drop by at least 17% in those offenders that are part of the RJ process.
How Is It Used?
Criminal justice is the most common use of the process, connecting victims with the offenders that committed crimes. However, this is really only one type of case that can benefit. Previous research shows that the proactive use of this type of system can provide children with coping mechanisms and life skills that they will be able to apply throughout the whole of their lives, while restorative justice used in the workplace has been shown to improve communication and relationships between employees, and subsequently to improve the morale and efficiency of teams within a working environment. The system has even been used in cases where there have been complaints against the police, so that both parties are encouraged to communicate and to listen to the other side’s point of view.
Restorative justice is being used more and more often in criminal cases, and it is being introduced into schools and workplaces across the country. Its success is being well documented, and there are specialist training courses now available for those that wish to become a part of the process. As such, and combined with the potential savings and positive results, it seems highly likely that restorative justice programmes will be increased, improved, and continued in the future.