Restorative justice is a practice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by crime by bringing victims, offenders, and community members together to reconcile how that will be done. Outcomes from the process can be transformational.
Dr. Howard Zehr, the pioneer of restorative justice in the United States, proclaims, “A restorative justice framework focuses on repairing the harm done to victims and the community through a process of negotiation, mediation, victim empowerment, and reparation. Within this framework, crime and delinquency present a unique opportunity to build relationships and reach an agreement through a collaborative process.”
The process has been utilized with juvenile first time offenders and proven valuable for reducing the rate of reoffending. Recidivism is reduced from 30% using the conventional punitive system down to 8% using restorative practices with youthful offenders.
Restorative justice approaches to minor delinquency or criminal violations have gained popularity in the U.S. and elsewhere since the 1970s and are increasingly employed as responses to serious delinquency or adult criminal behaviors.
The restorative justice process traditionally involves victims and offenders confronting each other in a conference or also referred to as a circle. Both the victim and offender are voluntary participants. A facilitator and co-facilitator along with community members are also present.