Who is involved in the Restorative Justice process?

Restorative processes often involve an encounter between the stakeholders in a particular situation. Stakeholders (e.g. victim and offender) come together on a voluntary basis to discuss the harm caused and what is required to restore the violated relationship as best as can be accommodated. Encounters usually involve a community member or representative in cases where there is no identifiable victim. These encounters, also called restorative circles or restorative conferences, are guided by volunteer facilitators.

 

Victims (persons harmed by crime):

In the traditional criminal justice system, once a person has been accused of a crime, a prosecutor charges the accused in court on behalf of the government. The prosecutor considers the offence as a crime against the state or society, rather than a crime against the person harmed. This means the person harmed is not part of the justice process, except if they are used as a witness. This can be a grueling process for a person harmed with little or no efforts to restore their loss.

Restorative justice allows persons harmed to get answers to questions they have about the offence directly from the offender.

 It may also allow them to regain control of what was taken away from them as a result of the offence.

 

Offenders (persons causing harm):

The traditional criminal system is concerned with holding offenders accountable by punishing them for the offences they have committed. However, it prevents opportunities for the accused to recognize and understand the real consequences of their actions or to emphasize with their victims. There is little chance for taking responsibility.

Restorative justice creates an environment where persons causing harm take responsibility for what they have done and the consequences that have arisen from their offences.

It asks them to be accountable for the actual harm they have created and to transform the shame they feel.

The restorative process can allow persons causing harm to deal with the underlying causes for their behaviors, opportunities to receive support to enhance personal competencies and seek help for substance abuse and mental health concerns.

Finally, it encourages reintegration into their communities.

 

Community:

Communities are impacted by crime and might be considered secondary victims. Sometimes, crimes may not have a specific victim but the community in which the offence occurs is harmed. Community can include both the physical location where an offence occurred, or a group of people connected together by something other than physical location. 

Community members can include businesses, religious institutions, schools and universities, individuals or collective peoples, special interest groups, or any other group of people with a shared or common understanding.

Restorative justice encourages the community to take on the obligation of welfare for its members, including victims and offenders, by fostering healthy social and economic conditions for a strong, connected community.