What is restorative justice?
Restorative justice emphasizes the ways in which crimes hurt relationships between people who live in a community. Restorative justice is "designed to provide the context for ensuring that social rather than legal goals are met."1 Within the process of restorative justice there are three major goals: victim involvement, offender accountability, and community protection. The offender becomes accountable to those they have harmed both directly and indirectly. Restorative justice involves community agencies, police, numerous community members, schools, etc. to open up communication between organizations and people and strengthen the bonds within the community. Restorative justice is an alternative to corrections for non-violent offenders and offers them a second chance. These non-violent offenders would work in closely monitored community projects and provide some form of restitution to their victims. Restorative justice also helps communities build their sense of safety by having community members be active in the peacemaking process.
What are the advantages of the restorative approach?
I feel that there are numerous advantages of the restorative approach. The most important of all is for all parties to come to an agreement to repair the relations that have been damaged due to the crime and holding the offender accountable for their actions. This process is completed and is quite successful through various community programs. Some of these community programs include: sentencing circles, family group conferences, community self-help groups (eg. MADD), and victim/offender mediation programs. Sentencing circles get everyone involved and the plan for repairing the harm almost always includes a community-based solution. Family group conferences allows the victim, the offender, and their family and friends to talk about how the crime has affected their lives. All the other programs mentioned are the same, as the two above, in which it gives the victim, the offender and the...