As we mark Restorative Justice Week 2018 in Canada
Restorative Justice (RJ) aims to help participants to feel empowered and restored. Victims of crime are afforded the opportunity to express their suffering directly to offenders, to feel heard, to address their fears and to begin reconstructing their lives. Research shows that when RJ processes are designed with victims’ needs and concerns in mind, it is largely experienced as positive by victims. Unlike the traditional criminal justice system, it provides victims with a truly meaningful voice and a direct role in addressing the impacts the offence had on them and others. RJ seeks the full accountability of offenders and asks them to repair the harm done to their victims. It is a more holistic method of delivering justice because of its emphasis on restoring harmony in communities.
If we envision a criminal justice system that better meets the needs of victims of crime, offenders and the community, it is important to consider implementing RJ approaches more broadly. In supporting the increased use of and access to it, we would be promoting better criminal justice outcomes for victims of crime who need to feel heard, have a voice in the justice process, hold the offender to account and provide opportunities to address or repair harm.