What Is Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by criminal behavior. It views crime as a violation and harming of people and relationships.

It is an approach to problem solving that is based around three basic concepts:

  • When crime (or wrongdoing) occurs, the focus is on the harm that has been done to people and relationships

  • When harm has been done, obligations and liabilities have been created

  • All involved parties, wrongdoers, victims and the community, should be included in the resolution process

Restorative Justice programs are characterized by four key features:

  • Inclusion – all affected parties are given opportunity to participate in the resolution process

  • Encounter – victims, wrongdoers, their families and community members who want to are given opportunities to meet to discuss the incident and its impact on them

  • Amends – wrongdoers are expected to take the agreed upon steps to repair the harm their actions caused

  • Reintegration – seek to restore wholeness and relationships so that all affected parties can return to being contributing members of the community