An Explanation: Restorative Justice At a Glance

Offender, Community, Victim, and State/Government are the four parties involved in the restorative justice process. They are interconnected by the lines drawn on the diagram.Microsoft Word - Thinking about Restorative Justice.doc

Rehabilitation, Restitution, Compensation, and Healing are the desired outcomes between each respective relationship. For instance, Restitution is the desired goal between the Offender and the State/Government.

Fairness, Satisfaction, Peace and Safety, and Law and Order are the needs that must be met by each respective party. In order for these needs to be met, three questions must be asked.

1)  What harms have occurred?

2)  What needs have resulted?

3)  Whose obligation is it to repair those harms?

Howard Zehr, one of the forerunners in the development of the restorative justice model, while recognizing the danger of establishing a rigid meaning to the model, defines restorative justice loosely as a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identity and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.

According to Carl Stauffer, Assistant Professor at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, three pillars must support any restorative justice endeavor.

1) Acknowledgement of the injustice – For instance, as one victim of rape stated, “I needed the guilty to say he was guilty in order for me to be declared innocent.”

2) Equity must be restored – The victim must feel empowered again because the offender has taken power from them in the act of committing the offense.

3) Future intentions must be addressed – As an offender put it, “You don’t know what it is like to be only known for the worst thing you have ever done in your life.”

This needs to be repaired through structured victim-offender interactions. Many offenders are willing to try to make things right.

Because restorative justice is a relatively new field of operation and study, limited hard data on the outcomes of the process exist. What data does exist, however, points toward a higher rate of respect between each party, and as a result, a more meaningful amount of justice served.

Justice in its true form is a holistic reparation attained through the meaning recognized in human relationships.

The restorative justice process seeks to provide the inherent justice needed between victims, offenders, the community, and the state/government.

Information courtesy of Carl Stauffer and Howard Zehr’s “The Little Book of Restorative Justice.”

-Chris Yoder, Assistant Editor


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