Restorative justice demonstrates a shift in perspective in terms of law and justice. Traditional criminal justice systems have in the past focused on identifying a crime, the person who committed the crime, and the ideal punishment that the offender should be subjected to. However, it is important to understand that the punishment of an offender either through jail term or subjecting them to other capital punishments such the death penalty does not help solve the problem that faces the persons affected by the crime.
In the light of this, restorative justice works to obtain a long term solution to the injuries that are caused by the offender. However, restorative justice acknowledges that for this to be effective, both the offender and the offended have a role to play in making sure that an amicable solution is achieved. The Offender has to understand that there have not only caused injury to the offended party, but they have also offended society. Therefore, the offender has a moral obligation to be actively involved in working towards repairing the damages that have been inflicted on both the victim of crime, and the community at large (Sullivan, 2006, p.56). Restorative justice acknowledges the fact that even the offenders have dependents that would be affected by the types of punishments that the offender would be subjected to. For this reason restorative justice works towards making sure that justice is attained while at the same time making sure that the personal needs of both the offender and the injured parties is adequately addressed.
The restorative justice process involves four important facets that are important for its success. First of all, both the offender and the victim must be brought together to the deliberations table. This would entail processes of persuasion of both parties where it is important for them to come together and discuss the turn of events resulting from the crime that is committed. After both the offender and the victim are brought together, the second step entails the creation of an amendment process whereby the parties formulate a mechanism that will be followed in the repairing of the damages that have been caused by the offender. Parties involved have to be in agreement that indeed the mechanism proposed is fair to all, attainable, and workable. In this way, the responsibilities that are bestowed on both the offender and the victim are fair and reflect their willingness and commitment to repair the damages that have been caused by the crime. After amendment process has been reached at the second stage, other members of the community that might have either been involved in the crime or may have been indirect perpetrators or victims are integrated into the amendment process. This third process illustrates the magnitude of the crime and the adverse effect that the crime has had on the community as a whole. After members of the community are integrated into the amendment process, both the offender and the victim are given the opportunity to seek a solution for the crime.
The restorative justice process might take a lengthy period of time because both the offender and victim are given the opportunity to decide which resolution mechanism would work best in producing the most effective results. It is important to understand that both the offender and the victim must play an active role in fulfilling their responsibility in the amendment process. One thing that is worth noting is that parties might at times not follow the resolutions that have been put forward by the both parties. In order to ensure that every party diligently meets their responsibility, there has to a legal system that monitors the actions of both parties. This would mean that parties not following the agreed terms in the restorative justice system might be reprimanded and a punitive expedition executed on them for their indiscretion. Therefore the major differences that exists between the traditional justice system and the restorative justice system is the fact that traditional justice system does not go beyond the identification of the broken law or code of ethics, the identification of the perpetrator of crime, and the type of punishment that needs to be addressed in a given case. On the contrary, restorative justice fight looks at the overall effect of the crime. Restorative justice looks at what parties have been harmed by a certain crime, the wants and needs of the affected parties, and the responsibilities and obligations that the parties should have in order to make sure that the situation has been repaired and rectified (Miller, 2008, p.44). This illustrates that traditional criminal justice system seeks to address the legal matter in the short-term, but restorative justice looks at how long-term solutions can be attained. For example, in the case of the South Africa nation that had been torn apart by forces of racism and apartheid, restorative justice was one of the formulas that was used in enhancing national healing and reconciliation (Furio, 2007, p.172).
In the case of David, Mildred and community restorative justice helped find a lasting solution for each of these entities. The offender in this case agreed to commit himself to serving community as a way of repairing the wounds and the damages that had been caused on the victim. By serving community, it illustrates that the crime that had been committed did not only affect the victim but affected the community as a whole. It is through restorative justice that both David and Mildred are able to devise a healing process among them. In this way, they can able to gain closure and forgive each other regarding the crime that had happened.
Furio, J. (2007). Restorative justice prison as Hell or a chance for redemption? New York: Algora Publishers.
Miller, H. V. (2008). Restorative justice: from theory to practice. Bingley: Emerald JAI.
Sullivan, D., & Tifft, L. (2006). Handbook of restorative justice: a global perspective. London: Routledge.