You might be asking yourself “What exactly IS Restorative Justice?”
There are many versions of the answer to this question, so we have compiled a number of definitions to explore – to inspire a more full comprehension of the process and meaning behind the important work of the RJ practice.
From the Restorative Justice Week 2015 notice on the Correctional Service Canada website:
Restorative justice (RJ) is a philosophy and an approach that views crime and conflict as harm done to people and relationships. It is a non-adversarial, non-retributive approach to justice that emphasizes healing in victims, accountability of offenders, and the involvement of citizens in creating healthier, safer communities. The goal is to reach meaningful, satisfying, and fair outcomes through inclusion, open communication, and truth. – More at: http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/restorative-justice/003005-2000-eng.shtml
From the Justice BC website:
Restorative justice seeks to repair the harm caused by crime and violence by addressing victims’ needs, holding offenders accountable for their actions, and engaging the community in the justice process. To achieve this, offenders must first accept responsibility for their role in an offence and the harm they have caused. Victims must also voluntarily choose to participate. Communities are given an opportunity to provide support, offer their input and assist in helping the offender to return to living in the community. In this approach, crime is understood not only as breaking the law, but as a violation of people and relationships and a disruption of the peace in the community. More at: http://www.justicebc.ca/en/cjis/crime/crime_awareness/restorative_justice.html
While Restorative Justice is perhaps best known as a process related closely to the Criminal Justice System, we also use the term Restorative Practices to refer more broadly to include reconciliation processes (e.g. as described in the report and recent recommendations of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission) and the use of peace circles for the promotion of health and well-being.
Whatever the specific definition or context, “A process may be considered restorative when it is done using restorative values, such as: forgiveness, respect, honesty, sharing, courage, inclusivity, empathy, trust, responsibility, accountability.
Restorative justice processes invite participation from a broad range of participants because it is understood that when conflict happens, more people can be affected than just the two direct participants. Restorative justice is about restoring relationships and providing the opportunity for mutual understanding between all community members involved in a conflict.”*
*Pranis, K., Stuart, B., & Wedge, M. (2003). Peacemaking Circles: From Crime to Community. Living Justice Press: St. Paul, Minnesota.
For a deeper understanding of RJ in action, explore the links on our RESOURCES page.