About Restorative Justice

What is restorative justice and what does it look like?

In the face of crime and conflict, restorative justice (RJ) is a philosophy and an approach that views crime and conflict principally as harm done to people and relationships. It strives to provide support and safe opportunities for the voluntary participation and communication between those affected (victims, offenders, and community) to encourage accountability, reparation, and a movement towards understanding, feelings of satisfaction, healing, safety and a sense of closure.

RJ is a non-adversarial, non-retributive approach to justice that emphasizes healing in victims, meaningful accountability of offenders, and the involvement of citizens in creating healthier, safer communities.

While there is no single universal definition for RJ, common elements are shared between those that exist. These common elements, often referred to as RJ values and principles, are fundamental to ensuring that RJ values and principles remain consistent with the founding philosophy of this approach.

What can restorative justice mean to each of us?

RJ is about giving all parties involved in a conflict the opportunity to take an active role in a safe and respectful process that allows for open dialogue between the victim, offender, and the community. The decision to participate in a restorative justice process may be a complex and difficult one. Those who have participated in RJ processes report that RJ helps fulfill needs that have been previously left unmet.

  • RJ provides victims with an opportunity to tell their story, address the harm caused, and find answers to questions that are important to them.
  • RJ provides offenders with an opportunity to take responsibility for their actions and to be held accountable by those they harmed.
  • RJ empowers communities to gain a better understanding of the root causes of crime and allow the community to express and reduce its fears.