Restorative justice is a theory that calls
for repairing damage done by the offender to the victim. The process
of restorative justice has the best outcome when all of the stakeholders
are present and motivated towards making amends.
The value of restorative justice for many
is that through this process both victim and victimizer will come
to see the other party as human beings beyond what the court systems
themselves have to offer.
Some of the typical kinds of restorative justice programs include
victim and offender mediation, ex-offender assistance, victim
assistance, restitution and community service. The three principles
that are involved in restorative justice include: there be a restoration
to those who have been injured, the offender has an opportunity
to be involved in the restoration if they desire and the court
system's role is to preserve the public order and the community's
role is to preserve a just peace.
The four basic tenets of restorative justice include the encounter,
amends, reintegration and inclusion. The initial encounter gives
an opportunity for victims, offenders and community members to
meet to discuss a crime and its aftermath. The amends portion
offers the opportunity for the offender to take steps to repair
the harm to the victims that they have caused including restitution.
The reintegration phase means that both victims and offenders
are restored to whole, contributing members of society. The inclusion
phase means that all stakeholders in a crime can participate in
Restorative justice takes place within the criminal justice system
but is a fairly new concept that is starting to gain popularity.
Recently, even the popular Oprah television show brought
on two sets of guests who exemplified the restorative justice
concept. Victims and offenders on Oprah faced off to talk
about the crime committed and participants in what turned out
to be a cathartic process for both sides.
The restorative justice concept helps repair damages in schools,
the workplace and in the communities but the real value in the
concept is the restoration of relationships. Most victims are
enraged at their offenders even with a satisfactory outcome at
a criminal trial. The restorative justice process tries to restore
the relationship between victim and offender and thereby helping
to restore the victim's relationship with themselves and their
communities as well. The same goes for restoring the offender's
relationship with themselves and their community. When an offender
can take responsibility for a crime and verbalize this to the
victim, healing generally happens to both parties.
The restorative justice process is a creative and humane way
of dealing with the pain of both victims and offenders in a way
not traditional found within the court systems and is found to
be helpful by most who participate in such a program.