What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice is an evolving response to harm that respects the dignity and equality of each person, builds understanding, and promotes social harmony through the healing of victims, offenders, and communities.

Restorative approaches:

  • enable those affected by crime to openly share their feelings and experiences while aiming to address their needs.
  • provide an opportunity for victims to have a voice in the process, obtain reparations, and feel safer;
  • allow offenders to gain insight into the causes and effects of their behavior and to take responsibility in a meaningful way; and
  • enable communities to understand the underlying causes of crime, to promote community well-being and to prevent crime.

Restorative justice gives rise to a range of measures that are flexible in their adaptation to established criminal justice systems. Examples of restorative justice programs include:

  • Victim-Offender Dialogue or Mediation,
  • Family Group Conferencing,
  • Community Accountability Boards,
  • Impact of Crime on Victims Classes,
  • Restorative Discipline in Schools,
  • Circle Sentencing, and
  • Victim Impact Panels, among others.

Engaging in a restorative justice practice has been shown to lead to greater victim satisfaction, lower offender recidivism, and reduced costs.

(Partially adapted from the United Nation's "Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters.")

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