Restorative Justice

Jump to navigation Jump to search


The Occupy Boston restorative justice working group seeks to create a safe place and just society for all. Modeling a better way to deal with troublesome, risky and sticky situations and messy issues that have, are taking place and could arise in the future, in a way that seeks healing justice instead of the deeply flawed punitive system that the United States of America and so many other "civilized" and "developed" nations have in place as their legislative and judicial processes and systems.  

If you are interested in being part of this group please send an email to  We would love to have a very broad and holistic range of backgrounds and skills to help us realize this enourmous and most essential part of our community.

What is restorative justice?

Restorative Justice (also sometimes called "reparative justice") is an approach to justice that focuses on the needs of the entire community, including the victims and offenders, instead of satisfying abstract legal principles or focusing on punishing the offender.

Victims take an active role in the process, while offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, "to repair the harm they've apologizing, returning stolen money, or community service". Restorative justice involves both victim and offender and focuses on their personal needs. In addition, it provides help for the offender in order to avoid future offenses. It is based on a theory of justice that considers crime and wrongdoing to be an offense against an individual or community, rather than the state. Restorative justice that fosters dialogue between victim and offender shows the highest rates of victim satisfaction and offender accountability.

Restorative justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused or revealed by criminal behavior. It is best accomplished through cooperative processes that include all stakeholders.

Restorative Justice is Practice

These practices include:

  • Victim-Offender Dialogue
  • Family Group Conferencing
  • Community/School Conferencing
  • Peacemaking Circles
  • Reparative Boards
  • Truth/ Reconciliation Commissions
  • Victim Impact Panels
  • Restorative Community Service
  • Restitution
  • Victim Support/Services
  • Reintegration Services

Practices and programs reflecting restorative purposes will respond to crime by:

1. identifying and taking steps to repair harm,  
2. involving all  stakeholders
3. transforming the traditional relationship between communities and their governments in responding to crime.

According to Zehr and Mika (1998), there are three key ideas that support restorative justice. First is the understanding that the victim and the surrounding community have both been affected by the action of the offender and, in addition, restoration is necessary. Second, the offender's obligation is to make amends with both the victim and the involved community. Third, and the most important process of restorative justice, is the concept of 'healing.' This step has two parts: healing for the victim, as well as meeting the offender's personal needs. Both parties are equally important in this healing process to avoid recidivism and to restore a sense of safety for the victim. Various methods of restorative justice are practiced; examples include victim offender mediation, conferencing, healing circles, victim assistance,ex-offender assistance, restitution, and community service. Each method focuses on the needs of both the offender and the victim, and heals in different ways.

Restorative justice principles are characterized by four key values: first, the encounter of both parties. This step involves the offender, the victim, the community and any other party who was involved in the initial crime. Second, the amending process takes place. In this step, the offender(s) will take the steps necessary to help repair the harm caused. Third, reintegration begins. In this phase, restoration of both the victim and the offender takes place. In addition, this step also involves the community and others who were involved in the initial crime. Finally, the inclusion stage provides the open opportunity for both parties to participate in finding a resolution. The process of restorative justice is lengthy and must be committed to by both parties for effective results.

More useful resources:

Suffolk University - Center for Restorative Justice

Communities for Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice Introduction

Bridges to Life Restorative Justice Program PBS Video

Victim Story Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice Talk with James W Zion June 18 2012