What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice can be defined as a relational approach that seeks to address or repair the harm caused to others by an offence or wrongdoing. It involves those who have been harmed and those responsible for causing harm deciding to talk with each other, assisted by facilitators.

They talk about three things: (1) what happened (2) how people have been harmed, and (3) what can be done to make things right and ensure that it doesn’t happen again. This kind of conversation can take a great deal of preparation, so as to make sure that it is safe and beneficial for everyone.

The benefits of restorative justice can include the following:

it enables all of those involved—the persons harmed and those responsible—to begin to see each other as individuals, rather than as stereotypes;

it provides an opportunity for each participant to experience a powerful re-affirmation of their dignity and worth as human beings;

it creates a ‘safe place’ in which people can begin to repair deeply wounded and damaged relationships;

it can ease the hurt and negativity associated with the harm that was done by creating a positive experience of helping others in concrete and symbolic ways;

it can help every participant—and even the wider community—to come to a deeper understanding of the unique experiences and hardships suffered in the aftermath of what happened; and

it allows everyone affected to become personally involved in collectively creating a plan that will help to make sure that no one else has to go through such pain and hurt again.

For more detail, please see Beyond Harm: Toward Justice, Healing and Peace (Relational Approaches, 2019). Paperback | Kindle

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