Restorative justice

Restorative justice is an approach to justice in which one of the responses to a crime is to organize a meeting between the victim and the offender, sometimes with representatives of the wider community. The goal is for them to share their experience of what happened, to discuss who was harmed by the crime and how, and to create a consensus for what the offender can do to repair the harm from the offense. This may include a payment of money given from the offender to the victim, apologies and other amends, and other actions to compensate those affected and to prevent the offender from causing future harm.

A restorative justice program aims to get offenders to take responsibility for their actions, to understand the harm they have caused, to give them an opportunity to redeem themselves and to discourage them from causing further harm. For victims, its goal is to give them an active role in the process[1] and to reduce feelings of anxiety and powerlessness.[2] Restorative justice is founded on an alternative theory to the traditional methods of justice, which often focus on retribution. However, restorative justice programs can complement traditional methods, and it has been argued that some cases of restorative justice constitute punishment from the perspectives of some positions on what punishment is.[3]

Academic assessment of restorative justice is positive. Most studies suggest it makes offenders less likely to reoffend. A 2007 study also found that it had a higher rate of victim satisfaction and offender accountability than traditional methods of justice delivery.[2] Its use has seen worldwide growth since the 1990s.[4] Restorative justice inspired and is part of the wider study of restorative practices.