Restorative justice is a process in which all parties involved, in an offence or crime consent collectively to repair the aftermath of the criminal act and its subsequent, future implications (Johnstone, 2011). This process often occurs in the form of face to face meetings depicting a powerful method of not only resolving physical and material injuries arising from the crime, but also addressing critical aspects such as relational, psychological and social injuries. This often leads to the desired outcome of transformation of individuals, communities and relationships within our societies.
The pure restorative process involves a series of organized and defined activities that aid in its application and relevance. The first step involves a series of meeting with the offender, victim and the community. This provides the victim the chance to meet the criminal or offender and engage in a discussion with assistance from a trained mediator in a well structured and safe, environmental setting. The main objective of this process is to encourage the criminal to learn about the offence impact and subsequently take responsibility for his or her action (Johnstone, 2011).
Secondly, this can be done through community and family conferencing, mobilizing the offender, victim, friends, family and other significant supporters of both sides in deliberating how to resolve the aftermath of the offence. An application of this process can be viewed in New Zealand in which juvenile offenders are addressed through conferencing. The third process involves sentencing or peacemaking circles that involve developing consensus among the offenders, offenders supporters, victim, victim’s supporters, community members, police, judges, prosecutors, defense and court workers on acceptable sentencing that takes in to consideration the concerns of all the involved stake holders.
Vermont introduced a program dubbed the reparative or restorative probation in 1995. The aim was to mobilize all the local citizen who were the victims to meet with the offenders convicted of various felonies such as drunk driving, simple assault, shoplifting and welfare fraud. These offenders are recommended by the District court and as part of the restorative process; in addition, they meet with the District board, to deliberate on the impact of their crimes. The next process involves the Board constructing a methodology for restoration to the community and the victims. These may be in the form of community service and apologies and essays. The Board also develops other plans to avoid the offenders commit the same mistakes. There are thirty towns and sixty two Boards in Vermont.
The restorative justice major concepts are definitely viewed as the new paradigms for both correctional and sentencing in the future because it has enabled criminals to assume responsibilities for all their actions. Restorative justice reintegrates offenders back into the community and creates a means of avoiding delay of legal justice and rise of the associated costs. Moreover, it reinforces a working community that assists the rehabilitation of criminals and victims and consequently preventing crime. Finally, it fully commits to the victim’s financial, material, social and emotional needs.
Johnstone, Gerry. (2011). A Restorative Justice Reader. Willan Pub.