Restorative Justice refers to a philosophy of criminal justice that seeks to understand and repair the harm that was done in a given situation, with a particular focus on restoring the victim and repairing damaged relationships, rather than on punishing the offender. Peacemaking circles, victim-offender mediation, community and family group conferencing and peer mediation are some of the ways restorative justice can be applied.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice describes restorative justice this way: “While most approaches to juvenile justice concentrate on punishing or treating delinquent youths, the restorative justice process seeks to repair the harm by involving the entire community in rehabilitating offenders and holding them accountable for their behavior.”
Restorative Justice Resources
The Adler School’s Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice published a white paper titled “Restorative Justice: A Primer and Exploration of Practice Across Two North American Cities,” examining the application of restorative justice in Chicago and Vancouver. The paper provides an overview of the history and philosophy behind restorative justice, takes a closer look at examples in Chicago and Vancouver and offers recommendations to practitioners and researchers.
The New York Times looked at a restorative justice program being used in Oakland, California schools in an article published on April 3, 2013. It describes restorative justice as an approach that “encourages young people to come up with meaningful reparations for their wrongdoing while challenging them to develop empathy for one another…”
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice has a web page providing a description of restorative justice, including various ways it is typically applied, with links to several local programs.