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What is Restorative Justice?

Justice honours the inherent worth of all and is integral to all social structures. In this context, Restorative Justice (RJ) is fundamentally about reparation, healing, accountability, and how people relate to one another. When a person or group has experienced harm or has caused harm, RJ provides a response to that harm that respects the integrity of each person and the community from which they come. Within this broad understanding, RJ can be interpreted and practiced in a variety of ways and settings. RJ is used to address conflict in schools, workplaces, communities, and families. It is also used in the criminal justice sector.

-Canadian Restorative Justice Consortium (CRJC)

What are the benefits of Restorative Justice?

If you are the person who has been harmed…

  • A chance to be heard. In a conference, every person affected by an incident is given the opportunity to share their reactions to the crime and how it has affected their lives.
  • You will have a say in how to repair the harm that has been done. The outcome must be fair, and the solutions can be as creative as the forum participants wish it to be.
  • Your curiosity may be satisfied. Questions like “Why did you do this?” or “Why me?” may be answered. Conferencing may remove some of the fear of being victimized again by the accused.
  • Conferencing helps set the healing process in motion. It can restore your confidence and trust in people.

If you are the person who has caused harm…

  • By taking responsibility for the offence, participating in Conferencing and complying with the Agreement, you may avoid a criminal record for your charge(s) and may not have to go through the traditional court system.
  • You get to hear from others how your actions have impacted them, as well as share some of the background behind what happened from your point of view.
  • You get a chance to have a say in the outcome of the conference.
  • You will see that your community does care about you and will attempt to reintegrate you back into your community.
  • By taking responsibility for your behaviour, and by giving an honest apology to the victim(s), you will be seen as a person of dignity.
  • Your behaviour may change and you may not re-offend.

Key elements of Restorative Justice

  • Shifts responsibility for offending behaviour back to the community
  • Is a proactive way of dealing with offenders in your community
  • Is a restorative approach to handling problems in your community
  • Strengthens relationships within a community
  • Can help reduce re-offending in your community
  • Is cost effective to a community