Restorative justice is an alternative way of thinking about criminal justice. It emphasizes the ways in which crime harms relationships in the context of the community. As a result, the offender becomes accountable to the victim and the community, not just the state. Accountability for offenders means taking responsibility for actions, and taking action to repair the harm caused to the victim and the community.
Restorative justice provides active participation by the victim, the offender and the community in the process of repairing the fabric of community peace. Victims services, restitution, community service, face-to-face meetings between victims and offenders, victim impact panels, and skill-building classes for offenders are elements of restorative justice.
HOW IS RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PRACTICED?
- Victim/offender mediation is available for victims who wish to participate. Faith communities, professional agencies, and community volunteers also provide support and assistance to the families of offenders.
- Businesses and community organizations work with offenders to reintegrate them into the community while offenders fulfill their obligations of restitution to the victim and the community.
- Faith communities sponsor support groups for offenders trying to change negative life patterns. Offenders leave prison with better life skills due to programs which engage them in victim/offender mediation, family group conferences, victim panels and community panels.
- Offenders engage in community service projects which benefit the community. The community provides work opportunities so that offenders are able to make restitution to the victims of their crimes.