What is restorative justice?
Restorative justice allows victims of crime to meet or communicate with their offender to discuss the impact of the crime. It is an approach to justice where a meeting is organised between the victim and offender and occasionally with representatives in the wider community. The aim is to share their experiences of what happened, to detail who was harmed and in what way, and to agree how the offender can repair the harm done. This method of justice contrasts most other methods which usually focus on punishment and retribution.
Restorative justice can act as a method for offenders to take responsibility for their actions, acknowledge the harm they have caused and offer them a chance to redeem themselves while also discouraging them from causing any further harm. For the victims, restorative justice provides an active role in the process and reduces feelings of powerlessness or anxiety.
Restorative justice can complement more traditional methods of justice. It has been shown to have positive effects. For example, a 2007 study found that restorative justice programmes have the highest rate of victim satisfaction and offender accountability of any method of justice.
What is an example of restorative justice?
When a person commits a crime, it harms the victims and the wider community. Therefore, community service is one example of restorative justice where the offender can get a better understanding of the harm they have caused and offer them a chance to support the healing process. In order for community service to be productive, it must focus on accountability rather than punishment. Typically, governments or non-profit organisation run community service programmes.
Victim assistance is another form of restorative justice that focusses on the victims and survivors or a crime. These programmes offer services to address many different concerns including navigating the criminal justice process and emotional support. There are two primary focusses of victim assistance. Firstly, to focus on the legal rights of victims and the personal crises that occur after a crime. Secondly, victims’ rights advocates who work on behalf of a victim or survivor to offer legal representation to support them though more complex criminal justice systems.
When you are the victim of a crime, it can be very traumatic which can make daily life challenging. Community support groups and mental health services can offer support physically and psychologically to help victims and survivors to recover and continue living their lives following the trauma.
What are the 4 goals of restorative justice?
The four goals of restorative justice are:
- Attending to victims’ needs
- Reintegrating offenders into their communities
- Empowering offenders to take responsibility for their actions
- Re-establish a community that supports victims and offers rehabilitation to offenders
Restorative justice allows victims of a crime to meet or communicate with their offender to discuss the impact of that crime. It is an approach to justice that differs from more traditional forms of justice that focus on punishment. It can act as a method for offenders to take responsibility for their actions, acknowledge the harm they have caused and offer them a chance to redeem themselves while also discouraging them from causing any further harm. Three examples of restorative justice include community service, victim assistance and support groups.
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