Restorative justice is an approach to
justice Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspectives, ...

in which one of the responses to a
crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper ...

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 and to reduce feelings of anxiety and powerlessness. Restorative justice is founded on an alternative theory to the traditional methods of justice, which often focus on
retribution Retribution may refer to: * Punishment * Retributive justice, a theory of justice ** Divine retribution, retributive justice in a religious context * Revenge, a harmful action against a person or group in response to a grievance Film and televisi ...
. 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. 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. Its use has seen worldwide growth since the 1990s. Restorative justice inspired and is part of the wider study of
restorative practicesRestorative practices is a social science that studies how to improve and repair relationships between people and communities. The purpose is to build healthy communities, increase social capital, decrease crime and antisocial behavior, repair harm a ...


According to John Braithwaite, restorative justice is: Although law professionals may have secondary roles in facilitating the restorative justice process, it is the citizens who must take up the majority of the responsibility in healing the pains caused by crime. The process of restorative justice thus shifts the responsibility for addressing crime. In 2014, Carolyn Boyes-Watson from
Suffolk University Suffolk University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two ...
defined restorative justice as:

Difference from other approaches

According to
Howard Zehr Howard J. Zehr (born July 2, 1944) is an American criminology, criminologist. Zehr is considered to be a pioneer of the modern concept of restorative justice. He is currently the Distinguished Professor of Restorative Justice at Eastern Mennonit ...

Howard Zehr
, restorative justice differs from traditional criminal justice in terms of the guiding questions it asks. In restorative justice, the questions are: # Who has been hurt? # What are their needs? # Whose obligations are these? # What are the causes? # Who has a stake in the situation? # What is the appropriate process to involve stakeholders in an effort to address causes and put things right? In contrast, traditional criminal justice asks: # What laws have been broken? # Who did it? # What do the deserve? Others, however, have argued that there are several similarities between restorative justice and traditional criminal justice, and that some cases of restorative justice constitute punishment from the perspectives of some positions on what punishment is. Restorative justice is also different from the adversarial legal process or that of
civil litigation Civil law is a major branch of the law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its envi ...
. As Braithwaite writes, "Court-annexed ADR (
alternative dispute resolution Alternative dispute resolution (ADR), or external dispute resolution (EDR), typically denotes a wide range of dispute resolution processes and techniques that act as a means for disagreeing parties to come to an agreement short of litigation: a ...
) and restorative justice could not be philosophically further apart". While the former seeks to address only legally relevant issues and to protect both parties' rights, restorative justice aims at "expanding the issues beyond those that are legally relevant, especially into underlying relationships".


History of the term

The phrase "restorative justice" has appeared in written sources since the first half of the nineteenth century. The modern usage of the term was introduced by Albert Eglash, who in 1977 described three different approaches to justice: # "retributive justice", based on punishment; # "distributive justice", involving therapeutic treatment of offenders; # "restorative justice", based on restitution with input from victims and offenders.

Precursors in indigenous groups

According to Howard Zehr, "Two people have made very specific and profound contributions to practices in the field – the
First Nations The First Nations (french: Premières Nations ) are groups of Canadian indigenous peoples, who are classified as distinct from the Inuit Inuit (; iu, ᐃᓄᐃᑦ 'the people', singular: Inuk, , dual: Inuuk, ) are a group of culturally s ...
people of Canada and the U.S., and the Maori of New Zealand... many ways, restorative justice represents a validation of values and practices that were characteristic of many indigenous groups," whose traditions were "often discounted and repressed by western colonial powers". For example, in New Zealand, prior to European contact, the Maori had a well-developed system called
Utu Utu, later worshipped by the East Semitic Akkadian-speaking Babylonians as Shamash, ''šmš'', syc, ܫܡܫܐ ''šemša'', he, שֶׁמֶשׁ ''šemeš'', ar, شمس ''šams'', Ashurian Aramaic: 𐣴𐣬𐣴 ''š'meš(ā)'' was the ancient ...
that protected individuals, social stability and the integrity of the group. Restorative justice (sometimes known in these contexts as ''circle justice'') continues to be a feature of indigenous justice systems today.

Development of theory

Howard Zehr's book ''Changing Lenses–A New Focus for Crime and Justice'', first published in 1990, is credited with being "groundbreaking", as well as being one of the first to articulate a theory of restorative justice. The title of this book refers to providing an alternative framework for thinking about – or new lens for viewing – crime and justice. ''Changing Lenses'' juxtaposed a "retributive justice" framework, where crime is viewed as an offense against the state, with a restorative justice framework, where crime is viewed as a violation of people and relationships. The book made reference to the positive results of efforts in the late 1970s and 1980s at victim–offender mediation, pioneered in the United States by Howard Zehr, Ron Claassen and Mark Umbreit.Van Ness, Daniel W., Karen Heetderks Strong. ''Restoring Justice–An Introduction to Restorative Justice''. 4th ed. New Province, N.J.: Matthew Bender & Co., Inc., 2010: 27. By the second half of the 1990s, the expression "restorative justice" had become popular, evolving to widespread usage by 2006. The restorative justice movement has attracted many segments of society, including "police officers, judges, schoolteachers, politicians, juvenile justice agencies, victim support groups, aboriginal elders, and mums and dads". "Restorative justice is a fast-growing state, national, and international social movement that seeks to bring together people to address the harm caused by crime," write Mark Umbreit and Marilyn Peterson Armour. "Restorative justice views violence, community decline, and fear-based responses as indicators of broken relationships. It offers a different response, namely the use of restorative solutions to repair the harm related to conflict, crime, and victimization."

Development of practice

In North America, the growth of restorative justice has been facilitated by NGOs dedicated to this approach to justice, such as the Victim Offender Mediation Association, as well as by the establishment of academic centers, such as the
Center for Justice and Peacebuilding Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) is an accredited graduate-level program founded in 1994. It also offers non-credit training. The program specializes in conflict transformation, restorative justice Restorative justice is an approa ...
Eastern Mennonite University Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) is a private Mennonite Mennonites are members of certain Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Je ...

Eastern Mennonite University
in Virginia, the
University of Minnesota The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (the U of M or Minnesota) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organ ...

University of Minnesota
's Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking, the Community Justice Institute at
Florida Atlantic University Florida Atlantic University (Florida Atlantic or FAU) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or o ...
, the Center for Peacemaking and Conflict Studies at
Fresno Pacific University Fresno Pacific University (FPU) is a Christian university in Fresno, California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departm ...
in California, the Center for Restorative Justice at the
University of San Diego {{Infobox university , name = University of San Diego , image = University of San Diego seal.svg , image_upright = .7 , established = {{start date and age, 1949 , motto = ''Emitte Spiritum Tuum'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical langu ...
, and the Centre for Restorative Justice at
Simon Fraser University Simon Fraser University (SFU) is a public university, public research university in British Columbia, Canada, with three campuses: Burnaby (main campus), Surrey, British Columbia, Surrey, and Vancouver. The main Burnaby campus on Burnaby Mounta ...

Simon Fraser University
in British Columbia, Canada. Members of the
Mennonite Mennonites are members of certain Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title) ...
s and the social-action arm of their church-community,
Mennonite Central Committee Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is a relief service, and peace agency representing fifteen Mennonite Mennonites are members of certain Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic ...
, were among the early proponents. " e antinomian groups advocating and supporting restorative justice, such as the Mennonites (as well as Amish and Quaker groups), subscribe to principled pacifism and also tend to believe that restorative justice is much more humane than the punitive juvenile and criminal justice systems." The development of restorative justice in continental Europe, especially the German speaking countries, Austria, Germany and Switzerland, is somewhat different from the Anglo-Saxon experience. For example, victim–offender mediation is just one model of restorative justice, but in the present European context it is the most important one. Restorative justice is not just a theory, but a practice-oriented attitude in dealing (not only) with criminal relevant conflicts. Restorative justice may be moving towards restorative practice. In October 2018, the
Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (French: ''Comité des ministres du Conseil de l'Europe'') or Committee of Ministers (French: ''Comité des ministres'') is the Council of Europe The Council of Europe (CoE; french: Conseil ...
adopted a recommendation to member states which recognised "the potential benefits of using restorative justice with respect to criminal justice systems" and encouraged member states to "develop and use restorative justice". Internationally, 125 nations collectively endeavored to contribute to the Prison Fellowship International set up by Charles Colson in 1979, which is aimed to help the current and former insiders and their family members beyond America. The Center for Justice & Reconciliation was initiated for information dissemination and education pertaining to justice and reconciliation as of 1996 by the Prison Fellowship International.


In system-wide offenses

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission shows how restorative justice can be used to address system-wide offenses that affect broad swaths of a group or a society.

In criminal cases

In criminal cases, victims can testify about the crime's impact upon their lives, receive answers to questions about the incident, and participate in holding the offender accountable. Meanwhile, offenders can tell their story of why the crime occurred and how it has affected their lives. They are given an opportunity to compensate the victim directly – to the degree possible. In criminal cases, this can include money, community service in general and/or specific to the offense, education to prevent recidivism, and/or expression of remorse. A courtroom process might employ pretrial diversion, dismissing charges after restitution. In serious cases, a sentence may precede other restitution. In the community, concerned individuals meet with all parties to assess the experience and impact of the crime. Offenders listen to victims' experiences, preferably until they are able to empathize with the experience. Then they speak to their own experience: how they decided to commit the offense. A plan is made for prevention of future occurrences, and for the offender to address the damage to the injured parties. All agree. Community members hold the accountable for adherence to the plan. While restorative justice typically involves an encounter between the offender and the victim, some organizations, such as the
Mennonite Central Committee Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is a relief service, and peace agency representing fifteen Mennonite Mennonites are members of certain Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic ...
Canada, emphasize a program's values over its participants. This can include programs that only serve victims (or offenders for that matter), but that have a restorative framework. Indigenous groups are using the restorative justice process to try to create more community support for victims and offenders, particularly the young people. For example, different programs are underway at
Kahnawake The Kahnawake Mohawk people, Mohawk Territory (french: Territoire Mohawk de Kahnawake, in the Mohawk language, ''Kahnawáˀkye'' in Tuscarora language, Tuscarora) is a First Nations reserve of the Mohawks of Kahnawá:ke on the south shore of the ...
, a
MohawkMohawk may refer to: Related to Native Americans *Mohawk people, an indigenous people of North America (Canada and New York) *Mohawk language, the language spoken by the Mohawk people *Mohawk hairstyle, from a hairstyle once thought to have been tr ...
reserve in Canada, and at the
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation ( lkt, Wazí Aháŋhaŋ Oyáŋke), also called Pine Ridge Agency, is an Oglala Lakota Indian reservation located virtually entirely in the U.S. state of South Dakota. Originally included within the territory of th ...
of the
Oglala Lakota The Oglala (pronounced , meaning "to scatter one's own" in Lakota language Lakota (), also referred to as Lakhota, Teton or Teton Sioux, is a Siouan languages, Siouan language spoken by the Lakota people of the Sioux tribes. Lakota is mutually ...
nation, within the United States.

In prisons

Besides serving as an alternative to civil or criminal trial, restorative justice is also thought to be applicable to offenders who are currently incarcerated. The purpose of restorative justice in prisons is to assist with the prisoner's
rehabilitation Rehabilitation or Rehab may refer to: Health * Rehabilitation (neuropsychology), therapy to regain or improve neurocognitive function that has been lost or diminished * Rehabilitation (wildlife), treatment of injured wildlife so they can be returne ...
, and eventual reintegration into society. By repairing the harm to the relationships between offenders and victims, and offenders and the community that resulted from the crime, restorative justice seeks to understand and address the circumstances which contributed to the crime. This is thought to prevent
recidivism Recidivism (; from ''recidive'' and ''ism'', from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known ...
(that is, that the offender repeats the undesirable behavior) once the offender is released. Research of a restorative reentry planning circle process in Hawai‘i showed reduced recidivism that controlled for the self-selection bias that often is difficult to overcome in restorative practices research. The reentry planning circle process was also shown to help children, whose incarcerated parents had one, address the trauma they suffered from losing a parent to prison. The potential for restorative justice to reduce recidivism is one of the strongest and most promising arguments for its use in prisons. However, there are both theoretical and practical limitations, which can make restorative justice infeasible in a prison environment. These include: difficulty engaging offenders and victims to participate in mediation; the controversial influence of family, friends, and the community; and the prevalence of mental illness among prisoners.

In social work

In social work cases, impoverished victims such as
foster children Foster care is a system in which a underage, minor has been placed into a ward (law), ward, group home (Residential Child Care Community, residential child care community, Treatment centre, treatment center, etc.), or private home of a state-cer ...
are given the opportunity to describe their future hopes and make concrete plans to transition out of state custody in a group process with their supporters. In social justice cases, restorative justice is used for problem solving.

In schools

Restorative justice has also been implemented in schools. It uses a similar model to programs used by the criminal justice system. Restorative practices can "also include preventive measures designed to build skills and capacity in students as well as adults". Some examples of preventive measures in restorative practices might include teachers and students devising classroom expectations together or setting up community building in the classroom. Restorative justice also focuses on justice as needs and obligations, expands justice as conversations between the offender, victim and school, and recognizes accountability as understanding the impact of actions and repairing the harm. In this approach, teachers, students and the community can reach agreements to meet all stakeholders’ needs. Collectivity is emphasized as the group must create an action plan to heal the harm and find a way to bring the offender back into the community. While the focus is in making the whole, the added benefit of restorative justice programs are a reduction in disciplinary actions such as suspensions and expulsions, and more effective reformative and/or reconciliatory actions imposed, such as writing apology letters, performing community service or – for example, in cases of bullying – composing a research paper on the negative effects of bullying. This approach develops and fosters empathy, as participating parties must come to understand the needs of all stakeholders in order for the conflict to be fully rectified. Both the offending party and the wronged/victimized party can address and begin to resolve their obstacles to achieving their education, with the aid of the restorative justice partners. Behavioral problems stemming from grief, for example, may be recognized and acknowledged within restorative justice programs; as a result, the party would be referred to a counselor to receive grief counseling. By approaching student discipline with restorative justice in the forefront, conflicts may be resolved to meet the funding needs of the school district – by way of reduced student absenteeism, rehabilitate the offending party, and to restore justice and make whole the wronged party. Collectivity and empathy are further developed by having students participate in restorative justice circles in administering roles such as mediators or jurors.


Restorative justice requires a form of meeting between the offender and the victim. A 2013 Cochrane review stressed the need for the offender to meet the victim face-to-face. In addition, the meeting may include people representing the wider community. Suggested reasons for why it can be effective include: *The offender has to learn about the harm they have caused to their victim, making it hard for them to justify their behavior. *It offers a chance to discuss moral development to offenders who may have had little of it in their life. *Offenders are more likely to view their punishment as legitimate. *The programs tend to avoid shaming and stigmatizing the offender. Many restorative justice systems, especially victim–offender mediation and family group conferencing, require participants to sign a
confidentiality agreement #REDIRECT Non-disclosure agreement #REDIRECT Non-disclosure agreement#REDIRECT Non-disclosure agreement A non-disclosure agreement (NDA), also known as a confidentiality agreement (CA), confidential disclosure agreement (CDA), proprietary informat ...
. These agreements usually state that conference discussions will not be disclosed to nonparticipants. The rationale for confidentiality is that it promotes open and honest communication.

Victim-offender dialogue

Victim–offender dialogue (VOD), (also called victim–offender
mediation Mediation is a structured, interactive process where an impartial third party assists disputing parties in resolving conflict through the use of specialized communication and negotiation techniques. All participants in mediation are encourage ...

, victim–offender conferencing, victim–offender reconciliation, or restorative justice dialogue), is usually a meeting, in the presence of one or two trained facilitators, between victim and offender. This system generally involves few participants, and often is the only option available to incarcerated offenders. Victim Offender Dialogue originated in Canada as part of an alternative court sanction in a 1974
Kitchener, Ontario ) , image_flag = Flag of Kitchener, Ontario.svg , image_blank_emblem = Logo of Kitchener, Ontario.svg , blank_emblem_size = 100x90px , image_map = , mapsize ...

Kitchener, Ontario
case involving two accused vandals who met face-to-face with their many victims. One of the first victim–offender mediation projects in the United Kingdom was run by
South Yorkshire South Yorkshire is a ceremonial A ceremony (, ) is a unified ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditio ...

South Yorkshire
Probation Service from 1983 to 1986.

Family group conferencing

Family group conferencing (FGC) has a wider circle of participants than VOD, adding people connected to the primary parties, such as family, friends and professionals. FGC is most commonly used for juvenile cases, due to the important role of the family in a juvenile offender's life. Examples can be found in
New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

, under the 1997 Young Offenders Act, and in New Zealand under the 1989 Children, Young Persons, and their Families Act. The New South Wales scheme has been favorably evaluated by the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. Fiji uses this form of mediation when dealing with cases of child sexual assault. While it may be seen as beneficial to involve the victim's family in the process, there are multiple issues stemming from this. For example, the vast majority of offenders are known to the victims in these cases. In a Fijian context, the notion of family extends wider than that of the normative Western idea. Therefore, involving the family in these cases may become complicated, for the family may not necessarily side with the victim or the process itself could cause rifts within the clan. Furthermore, the process as a whole places much emphasis on the victim forgiving the offender, as opposed to the offender making amends with the victim. Overall, the current process has the potential to cause great trauma and revictimise the victim.

Restorative conferences

Restorative conferences (RC) involves a wider circle of participants than VOD and FGC. There are many different names and procedures of operation for these community-based meetings. They are also referred to as ''Restorative Circles'', ''Restorative Justice Conferences'', ''Community Restorative Boards'' or ''Community Accountability Conferences''. Specific programs have their own names, such as ''Community Justice Committees'' in Canada and ''Referral Order Panels'' in England & Wales. Restorative Circles refers to restorative justice conferences in Brazil and
Hawaii Hawaii ( ; haw, Hawaii or ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...

, though can have a wider meaning in the field of
restorative practicesRestorative practices is a social science that studies how to improve and repair relationships between people and communities. The purpose is to build healthy communities, increase social capital, decrease crime and antisocial behavior, repair harm a ...
. A conference will typically include the victim, the offender and members of the local community, who have typically received some training. The family and friends of the offender and victim are frequently invited. RC is explicitly victim-sensitive. The community members discuss the nature and impact of the offense with the offender. The discussion continues until restitution is agreed; they may also see that the agreement is fulfilled. The largest restorative justice conference in history took place in the course of the 1990 reconciliation campaign that ended the blood feuds among ethnic Albanians in
Kosovo Kosovo, or ; sr-Cyrl, Косово officially the Republic of Kosovo,; sr, / is a partially recognised state in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a ...

, which was attended by between 100,000 and 500,000 participants. The reconciliation campaign was led by Anton Çetta, and over a period of three years (1990-1992) approximately one third of the entire population of Kosovo were documented to be actively involved in restorative justice conferences to end the blood feuds.

Circles of Support and Accountability

''Circles of Support and Accountability'' (CoSA) originated as a project of the "Welcome In", a Mennonite church in
Hamilton, Ontario Hamilton is a port city in the Canadian Provinces and territories of Canada, province of Ontario. Hamilton has a Canada 2016 Census, population of 536,917, and its Census Metropolitan Area, census metropolitan area, which includes Burlington, ...
. This approach has demonstrated the capacity to enhance the safe integration of otherwise high-risk sex offenders with their community. Canada judges some sex offenders too dangerous for any form of conditional release, "detaining" them until they serve their entire sentence. A subsequent conviction often leads to designation as a "Dangerous Offender". Prior to 1994, many such offenders were released without any support or observation beyond police surveillance. Between 1994 and 2007, CoSA assisted with the integration of well over 120 such offenders. Research indicated that surrounding a 'core member' with 5–7 trained volunteer circle members reduced recidivism by nearly 80%."Circles of Support & Accountability:A Canadian National Replication of Outcome Findings" Robin J. Wilson, Franca Cortoni, Andrew J. McWhinnie, 2007 Further, recidivist offences were less invasive and less brutal than without the program. CoSA projects now exist in every Canadian province and every major urban centre. CoSA projects are also operational in several U.S. states (Iowa, California, Minnesota, Oregon, Ohio, Colorado, Vermont) as well as in several United Kingdom regions (Cornwall, Devon, Hampshire, Thames Valley, Leicestershire, North Wales, North Yorkshire, and Manchester).

Sentencing circles

''Sentencing circles'' (sometimes called peacemaking circles) use traditional circle ritual and structure to involve all interested parties. The procedure commonly works as follows: the offender applies for the intervention, a healing circle is held for the victim, a healing circle is held for the offender, a sentencing circle is held and finally, follow-up circles to monitor progress.

Other social movements

Positive criminology and positive victimology

Positive criminology and positive victimology are conceptual approaches, developed by the Israeli criminologist Natti Ronel and his research team, that are well connected to restorative justice theories and practice. Positive criminology and victimology both place an emphasis on social inclusion and on unifying and integrating forces at individual, group, social and spiritual levels that are associated with the limiting of crime and recovery from victimization. In traditional approaches the study of crime, violence and related behaviors emphasizes the negative aspects in people's lives that are associated with deviance, criminality and victimization. A common understanding is that human relationships are affected more by destructive encounters than by constructive or positive ones. Positive criminology and victimology argue that a different approach is viable, based on three dimensions – social integration, emotional healing and spirituality – that constitute positive direction indicators.

Prison abolition

Prison abolition not only calls for the eradication of cages, but also new perspectives and methodologies for conceptualizing crime, an aim that is shared by restorative justice. In an abolitionist style of restorative justice, participation is voluntary and not limited by the requirements of organizations or professionals, the process includes all relevant stakeholders and is mediated by an independent third party. The emphasis is on meeting the needs of and strengthening the community.


A 2007 meta-study of all research projects concerning restorative justice conferencing published in English between 1986 and 2005 found positive results, specifically for victims: * Greater ability to return to work, to resume normal daily activities, and to sleep. * No cases of offenders verbally or violently abusing victims. * Reduced fear of the offender (especially for violence victims); lower perceived likelihood of another offense; increased sense of security; reduced anger towards the offender; greater sympathy for the offender and the offender's supporters; greater feelings of trust in others; increased feelings of self-confidence; reduced anxiety. Other findings included: * The only principled basis for selectively allowing, or banning, RJ is harm reduction. * Limited public familiarity and misconceptions about RJ. * Greater availability, together with information about victims' positive views is likely to increase the proportion of victims willing to participate. In July 2011, the
International Center for Transitional Justice The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) was founded in 2001 as a non-profit organization dedicated to pursuing accountability for mass atrocity and human rights abuse through transitional justice Transitional justice is a procedur ...
published a report entitled "To Live as Other Kenyans do: A Study of the Demands of Kenyan Victims of Human Rights Violations". The findings are based on individual and group interviews of victims of human rights abuses from Kenya's 2007 post-election violence. It highlights the importance of a victim-centered approach to determine the most effective mode of implementation for a comprehensive reparations program. The main finding of the report is that victims demand tangible basic benefits lost as a product of violence, such as food and shelter. It also acknowledges the need for symbolic reparations, such as formal apologies. The provision of reparations will in a sense create a restoration of the way life was before violence, and also signal the moving forward of a society through institutional change. The COREPOL Project (Conflict Resolution, Mediation and Restorative Justice and the Policing of Ethnic Minorities in Germany, Austria and Hungary) has been researching the effects of restorative justice programs in Germany, Austria and Hungary. Its goal is to establish whether restorative justice can lead to better relations between the police and minority groups. Its first stage is to look at the extent and role of RJ programs within the countries. The second stage is to look at the position of certain minority populations within the societies, with the study focusing on Turks in Germany, Roma in Hungary and Africans in Austria. The involvement of the police in RJ programs for minority populations will be explored. Finally, the proposed research will give examples of when RJ can be used to improve communication and interaction between the police and minority groups. The study deals with countries that use the
civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as England and Wales and the law of the United ...
legal system, in contrast to the
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
legal system of English-speaking countries. COREPOL is coordinated by the German Police University and funded through the European Commission's Seventh Framework Program (FP7).


Reduction of recidivism is also a goal of RJ,Hennessey Hayes, "Assessing Reoffending in Restorative Justice Conferences" (2005) 38(1) ''
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology The ''Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology'' is a triannual Peer review, peer-reviewed academic journal that covers criminology, criminological research. The journal was established in 1968 and is the principal journal of the Australia ...
'' 77
secondary to the restoration of offenders.Jaimie Beven et al., "Restoration or Renovation: Evaluating Restorative Justice Outcomes" (2005) 12(1) ''Psychiatry, Psychology and Law'' 194 Proponents argue that it can prevent reoffending and deter other potential criminals.John Braithwaite, "Restorative Justice: assessing optimistic and pessimistic accounts" in Michael Tonry (ed), ''Crime and Justice: A Review of Research'' (Volume 25, 1999) 1 Critics counter that RJ does not significantly influence crime rates. While some older studies showed mixed results, as of 2013, studies that compared recidivism rates have become more definitive and in favor of Restorative Justice. Some studies claim modest, relative reductions,Katherine Basire, "Taking Restorative Justice Seriously" (2004) 13 ''Canterbury Law Review'' 31James Bonta et al., "Restorative Justice and Recidivism: Promises Made, Promises Kept?" in Dennis Sullivan and Larry Tifft (eds), ''Handbook of Restorative Justice: A Global Perspective'' (2006) 108 but more recent studies are finding significant and meaningful reductions in recidivism rates (see below). A 1998 meta-analysis by Bonta et al. found that restorative justice programs caused mild reductions in reoffending rates. Latimer, Dowden and Muise carried out a meta-analysis that provided a more precise definition. conducted the second meta-analysis on the effectiveness of RJ. This study is important because it addresses the file-drawer problem. Also, some of the studies analyzed implemented a
randomized controlled trial A randomized controlled trial (or randomized control trial; RCT) is a form of scientific experiment An experiment is a procedure carried out to support, refute, or validate a hypothesis. Experiments provide insight into Causality, cause-and- ...
(a gold standard in research methods), although this does not represent the majority of studies included. This meta-analysis lends empirical support for the effectiveness of RJ to lower recidivism rates and increase compliance and satisfaction rates. However, the authors caution that a
self-selection bias In statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more ...
is rife through most studies of restorative justice. They reference authors from one study who found no evidence that restorative justice has a treatment effect on recidivism beyond a self-selection effect. The third meta-analysis on the effectiveness of RJ was conducted by Bradshaw, Roseborough, and Umbreit in 2006. The results of this meta-analysis add empirical support for the effectiveness of RJ in reducing juvenile recidivism rates. Since then, studies by Baffour in (2006) and Rodriguez (2007) have also concluded that RJ reduces recidivism rates compared to the traditional justice system. Bergseth (2007) and Bouffard (2012) supported these findings and also concluded that there may be some long-term effects of RJ over the traditional justice system; as well as RJ being more effective with serious crimes, RJ participants are less likely to commit serious crimes if they do re-offend and they go longer without re-offending. All of these studies found that RJ is equally effective regardless of race. In 2007,
Lawrence W. Sherman Lawrence W. Sherman (born October 25, 1949) is an American experimental criminologist and police educator who is the founder of evidence-based policing. Sherman's use of randomized controlled experiments to study Deterrence (psychological), deterre ...
and Heather Strang published a review of the previous literature and they conclude that in no way can RJ be more harmful than the traditional justice system. It is at least equally as effective as the traditional justice system in all cases. In most cases (especially with more serious offenses and with adult offenders) it is significantly more effective than the traditional justice system at lowering recidivism rates. It also reduced crime victims' post-traumatic stress symptoms and related costs and desires for violent revenge against their offenders. It provided both victims and offenders with more satisfaction with justice than the alternative, and saved money overall. A recent meta-analysis by the
Cochrane Collaboration Cochrane (previously known as the Cochrane Collaboration) is a British international charitable organisation formed to organise medical research findings to facilitate evidence-based Evidence-based practice (EBP) is the idea that occupation ...
(2013) on the effect of youth justice conferencing on recidivism in young offenders found that there was no significant effect for restorative justice conferencing over normal court procedures for number re-arrested, nor monthly rate of reoffending. They also noted a lack of high quality evidence regarding the effectiveness of restorative justice conferencing for young offenders.



According to Morris, the following are some of the most common criticisms that are used against the practicality or realism of restorative justice: Another critique of restorative justice suggests that professionals are often left out of the restorative justice conversation. Albert W. Dzur and Susan M. Olson argue that this sector of justice cannot be successful without professionals. They claim that professionals can aid in avoiding problems that come up with informal justice and propose the theory of democratic professionalism, where professionals are not just agents of the state – as traditional understandings would suggest – but as mediums, promoting community involvement while still protecting individuals' rights. Additionally, some critics like Gregory Shank and Paul Takagi see restorative justice as an incomplete model in that it fails to fix the fundamental, structural inequalities that make certain people more likely to be offenders than others. They and others question the structure of society and the fairness of institutional systems at their very core, pushing for addressing the root causes of many one-on-one offenses as well as for creating a socio-economic system that will be more conducive to harmonious, healthy living in general. Finally, some researchers agree that more research must be conducted to support the validity of restorative justice in schools, specifically in how its implemented. More exactly, restorative justice practices that are inconsistent, insufficient, or run out of funding tend to have the worst reputations for success. While many research studies support positive findings in restorative justice, continuing studies are still needed.

Limitations and issues in practice

Some judicial systems only recognize monetary restitution agreements. For instance, if victim and offender agree that the offender would pay $100 and mow the victim's lawn five times, the court would only recognize the $100 as restitution. Some agreements specify a larger monetary amount (e.g., $200) to be paid if the non-monetary restitution is not completed. Many jurisdictions cap the amount which a juvenile offender can be required to pay. Labor regulations typically limit the personal service tasks that can be performed by
minors Minor may refer to: * Minor (law) In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenc ...
. In addition, personal service usually must be approved by the juvenile's parents. According to the Victim Offender Mediation Association, victims are not allowed to profit from restitution (the equivalent of
punitive damages Punitive damages, or exemplary damages, are damages At common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or ) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial by virtue of being stated in writt ...
); only out-of-pocket losses ( actual damages) can be recovered. Courts can disallow unreasonable compensation arrangements. Both victim and offender can be hesitant to engage in victim–offender dialogue later in the criminal justice process. Once an offender starts serving a sentence, they may believe that the sentence is how they take responsibility for their actions rather than conversing with the victim. For victims, the trial and the sentencing of the offender may terminate the possibilities for discussion. For both offender and victim, victim–offender dialogue is limited in the amount of trust between the two parties.

In the media

Studies by Kelly M. Richards have shown that the general public would be open to the idea of alternative forms of justice, though only after the idea has been explicitly explained to them. According to other studies performed by Vicky De Mesmaecker, in order for restorative justice to become publicly accepted, there must be an effective public relations collaboration between the media and the criminologists. The use of
forgiveness Forgiveness, in a psychological Psychology is the scientific Science (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally s ...

as a tool has in the restorative justice programs, run for victims and perpetrators of
Rwandan genocide The Rwandan genocide occurred between 7 April and 15 July 1994 during the Rwandan Civil War The Rwandan Civil War was a large-scale civil war in Rwanda which was fought between the Rwandan Armed Forces, representing the country's governme ...
, the violence in
Israeli–Palestinian conflict The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is one of the world's most enduring conflicts, with the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip reaching years of conflict. Various attempts have been made to resolve the conflict as part of th ...
, and
Northern Ireland conflict The Troubles ( ga, Na Trioblóidí) were an ethno-nationalist Ethnic nationalism, also known as ethnonationalism, is a form of nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation A nat ...
, has also been documented in film, '' Beyond Right and Wrong: Stories of Justice and Forgiveness'' (2012). A tribal form of restorative justice is portrayed in the book ''Touching Spirit Bear'' by Ben Mikaelsen. The 2017 Canadian documentary '' A Better Man'' follows a meeting between a woman who is recovering from
domestic violence Domestic violence (also called domestic abuse or family violence) is violence Violence is the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy. Other definitions are also used, such as the World Health Organization Th ...
and the ex-partner. Season 2 episode 5 of the
NPR National Public Radio (NPR) is an American privately and publicly funded non-profit media organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washi ...

podcast ''Mindshift'' compares two schools that use restorative discipline practices, one that has already made the transition and one that is just beginning to use these practices. Peace Alliance hosts a twice weekly discussion forum on restorative justice called Restorative Justice on the Rise. There is public discussion about the restorative justice movement, as well as an archive of past discussions since January 27, 2019. In July 2020 the
BBC Radio 4 BBC Radio 4 is a British national radio station owned and operated by the BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London London is the c ...

BBC Radio 4
series ''The Punch'' followed the story of Jacob Dunne who, at the age of 18, threw a single punch in a drunken brawl outside a pub in
Nottingham Nottingham ( or locally ) is a city status in the United Kingdom, city and Unitary authorities of England, unitary authority area in Nottinghamshire, England. Part of the East Midlands region, it is north of London, south of Sheffield, north ...

, England. His victim, James Hodgkinson, died in hospital nine days later and Dunne was convicted of
manslaughter Manslaughter is a common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Black ...
. Meeting face-to-face with the victim's parents had a profound impact on both parties, and the resulting relationship changed Dunne's life in unexpected ways.

See also

Bullying Bullying is the use of force, coercion Coercion () is compelling a party to act in an involuntary manner by use of threat A threat is a communication of intent to inflict harm or loss on another person. Intimidation is widely observed ...

Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project The Civil Rights Restorative Justice Project is an initiative by the Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts, to document every racially motivated killing in the Southern United States, American South between 1930 and 1970. Th ...
Conflict resolution Conflict-of-interest editing on Wikipedia, Conflict resolution is conceptualized as the methods and processes involved in facilitating the peaceful ending of Conflict (process), conflict and Revenge, retribution. Committed group members attemp ...

Conflict resolution
Distributive justice Distributive justice concerns the Social justice, socially just Resource allocation, allocation of resources. Often contrasted with procedural justice, just process, which is concerned with the administration of law, distributive justice concentra ...
* Ho'oponopono *
International Institute for Restorative PracticesThe International Institute for Restorative Practices Graduate School (IIRP) is a private university in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, that provides advanced education of professionals at the graduate level and conducts research in the field of restorative ...
Therapeutic jurisprudence Therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) studies law as a social force (or agent) which inevitably gives rise to unintended consequences, which may be either beneficial (therapeutic) or harmful (anti-therapeutic). These consequences flow from the operation ...
Transformative justiceTransformative justice is a series of practices and philosophies designed to create change in social systems. Mostly, they are alternatives to criminal justice in cases of interpersonal violence, or are used for dealing with socioeconomic issues in s ...
Transitional justice Transitional justice is a procedure to respond to massive human rights violations that implements judicial redress, political reforms in a region or country, and other measures in order to stop human rights abuse. Transitional justice consists of j ...
Victimology Victimology is the study of victimization Victimisation (American and British English spelling differences#-ise.2C -ize .28-isation.2C -ization.29, or victimization) is the process of being victimised or becoming a wikt:victim, victim. The f ...


External links

A Survey of Doctoral Dissertations in Restorative Justice (1997 - 2018)

BBC story on 2007 Cambridge University report

Conference Facilitator's Script

Restorative justice, homepage

UK Restorative justice, homepage

Instituto Latino Americano de Prácticas Restaurativas

COREPOL project

Why Me? UK charity promoting restorative justice

Thom Brooks, "On Punitive Restoration"

Justice FAQ
Victim Offender Mediation Association.

Restorative Justice Fact Sheet, U.S. Department of Justice.
Peacemaking Circle process (Minnesota)

''The Effectiveness of Restorative Justice Practices: A Meta-Analysis''
Research and Statistics Division Methodological Series, Department of Justice Canada, 2001. (PDF) {{DEFAULTSORT:Restorative Justice Criminal justice Positive criminology Mediation Relational ethics Theories of law
Crime prevention Crime, Prevention Public safety Law enforcement Law enforcement techniques Prevention {{CatAutoTOC ...
Social work