What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice is an alternative form of justice that sees crime as a violation of people and relationships.  We want to identify responsibilities, meet needs, and promote repair through the involvement of victims, offenders and community members.  We do this by:

 •  Placing those who are directly affected at the center of the resolution process

       People affected by an offense (sometimes called victims) have support, choices, and a voice.  Those who participate are more likely to report that they feel the matter is settled.

    Those who have affected others (sometimes called offenders) and want to take responsibility for the harm they have caused by demonstrating they are trying to make things right.

     Communities, agencies and individuals who want to resolve conflict through face to face discussion.

     Police and courts who want to see crimes resolved in the community.

•  Seeking to understand the harm done.  Harm done is best understood from the point of view of those affected. 

 •  Working to repair the damage.  When one works to repair the harm done, they are taking responsiblity for their behavior.  

•  Re-building relationships with all people involved.  When all feel the harm has been addressed and responsibity has been taken, it's possible to rebuild future relationships.

• Recognizing the solution as a community responsibility. Restorative justice sees how  important it is for those closet to the problem to be responsible for wrongdoing.

•  Giving choice and opportunity to speak and be heard. Restorative justice seeks to involve all who wish to speak to a specific issue.

Language of restorative justice:  When we use labels to identify people, we often forget who they are or that they have a life beyond the label.  Restorative justice tries to avoid labels like "victim" and "offender" using instead "responsible party" and "those affected" or "those wronged" which are felt to be more descriptive. This is new and, therefore, sometimes difficult. In these documents, you will see both used with the hope that we will learn to be comfortable with the alternate terms.