I'm currently taking a class on the subject. It's something that I've fallen in love with and I'd like to have a discussion on what people think about this topic.
I'll try to sum up, contrast and compare a bit here to explain it. I'm not an expert on the subject, nor am I an expert in the current legal system. If I'm off, mistaken, or just completely wrong than please feel free to challenge or point out where I have fallen short and I'll be happy to readjust my wording.
Restorative Justice (RJ) puts the focus back on those that have been harmed or victimized, it gives space and a voice to the victims to heal from their traumas and experiences rather than be tossed aside during legal proceedings. In RJ we believe that any crime creates and obligation. An obligation to make right what was made wrong.
In RJ we create dialogues and interactions, if deemed safe, between victims and offenders in order for victims to gain an understanding of what happened, why, and what should be done to the offenders moving forward.
A contrast the criminal justice views and RJ's looks a bit like the following:
- Crime is a violation of the law and the state.
- Violations create guilt.
- Justice requires the state to determine blame (guilt) and impose punishment.
- Central Focus: Offenders getting what they deserve.
- Crime is a violation of people and relationships.
- Violations create obligations.
- Justice involves victims, offenders, and community members in an effort to put things right.
- Central Focus: Victim needs and offenders responsibility for repairing harm.
Stolen from:The little book of Restorative Justice
Dr. Howard Zehr
I'll start with that and move forward from there if this doesn't fail.