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What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice maintains that those who have a stake in a specific offense must be involved to the extent possible. When guided by evidence-based practices, they can collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations in order to heal and put things as right as possible.


When a crime has been committed...

Instead of asking these questions:

  • What law was broken?
  • Who broke the law?
  • How are we going to punish them?

We should be asking these questions:

  • Who was harmed?
  • How will the harm be repaired?
  • Who is responsible for repairing the harm?

Restorative Justice Stakeholders

Crime affects victims, but also communities as well as offenders, themselves.  The hope is that victims’ needs are met and that harm done can be made right so that victims can thrive, communities can become peaceful places, and that offenders, too, can become successful members of society.  When common ground is found, people find solutions together through mutual consensus building decision making.

3 circles meeting in the center

Restorative Justice practices are characterized by:

  1. Encounter: Creates opportunity for victims, offenders and community members to meet to discuss the crime and its harm.
  2. Amends: Expects offenders to take steps to repair the harm they have caused.
  3. Reintegration:  Seeks to restore victims as well as offenders to whole, contributing members of society.
  4. Inclusion: Provides opportunities for all to collaborate in creating a resolution.

Restorative Conversational Questions

To the wrongdoer:

  • What happened?
  • What were you thinking at the time?
  • What have you thought about since?
  • Who do you think as been affected by what you did?
  • In what way?
  • What do you need to do to make things right?
  • How can we make sure this doesn't happen again?
  • What can we do to help you?

To the person harmed:

  • What happened?
  • What did you think when it happened?
  • What have you thought about since?
  • How has it affected you?
  • What's been the hardest part for you?
  • What's needed to make things right?
  • How can we make sure this doesn't happen again?
  • What can we do to help you?

Social Discipline Window

This social discipline window created by Ted Wachtel describes how more positive behavior changes can be made when working WITH offenders rather than doing things FOR or TO them.



The Big 5 Restorative Justice Questions

To determine if a process, program or activity complies with the concept of restorative justice, we ask:

  1. Does it show equal concern for victims, offenders and the community of those affected?
  2. Does it encourage the offender to feel accountable for his/her conduct and be willing to repair the harm caused the victim and the community in a way that helps the offender develop competency
  3. Does it provide opportunities for dialogue, direct and/or indirect, between all of the community of those affected, including the victim and offender?
  4. Does it encourage those involved to collaborate in restoring and developing positive relationships among those affected, including the victim and the offender?
  5. Does it empower those affected to increase their capacity to recognize and respond to harm and crime in a restorative way?

The "Balanced Approach"

It is an approach that takes restorative justice one step further and considers the concepts of accountability, competency development and community safety with regard to crimes by young offenders.

What do these terms mean?

Accountability:
When an young person commits a crime, they create an obligation to victims and their community.

Competency Development:
Young people who enter the juvenile justice system should leave more capable than when they entered.

Community Safety:
Juvenile Justice has a responsibility to protect the public from juveniles in the system.


Summary of Restorative Practices

This diagram describes restorative justice practices. Those within the large circles are encounter practices requiring specific training.


Practices

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