What is Restorative Justice?
It is a systemic response to crime and offending which focuses on healing the harms caused and restoring those harmed (as much as is possible) while holding offenders accountable for their actions and working to transform them to reduce the likelihood of them causing future harm.
CURB advocates for the implementation of what we term "balanced restorative justice". In balanced Restorative Justice, the aim is two-fold; that is, to Heal Persons harmed and the Relationships broken by virtue of the offending behaviour and to Transform Offenders.
As such, Restorative Justice initiatives focus on those persons who have been harmed, their families and community as well as those who have caused harm and require to be transformed.
What is Wrong with the Present Systems?
Among the drawbacks of the traditional criminal justice system are the lack of voice of and support given to crime survivors; the absence of healing for crime survivors; the needless break-up of families through imprisonment of non-violent and youthful offenders; absence of structures to facilitate effective transformation of offenders so as to promote reduced re-offending.
Will Restorative Justice replace that system?
Not necessarily. Restorative Justice can serve to divert youthful, first-time offenders or persons with drug and other treatment needs from the traditional system once they admit their offences. Restorative initiatives can also be used before, during, or after as well as in place of traditional justice systems.
Is Restorative Justice 'soft' on Offenders?
NO! Many offenders find it much more difficult to admit their crimes and to undergo transformation or treatment to prevent re-offending. It is easier for many of them to just 'do time' than to face up to the effects of their crimes. International research continually shows that restorative justice has been effective to reduce re-offending.
Can Restorative Justice Be Used for Serious Crimes?
YES! Because restorative initiatives aim to heal crime survivors and to transform offenders, they have been used in cases of rape, robbery, murder, etc. Remember, the use of restorative processes does not always replace the need to punish some offenders.
What's in it for the Victims?
Among other things, crime survivors have a Voice and can receive restitution, compensation and a greater sense of safety. Research shows that most crime survivors are more satisfied with restorative outcomes than traditional ones.
Are there Benefits for the Community?
YES! The communities in which restorative initiatives are utilised are strengthened, healed, and empowered to support crime survivors and ex-offenders and have reduced re-offending rates.
What is the role of the Community?
Restorative Justice initiatives empower local and national communities to develop support systems to assist in the restoration of crime survivors as well as offenders. These support systems often provide a buffer to prevent the recurrence or lessen the degree of future offences of like manner.
An empowered community is more safe, less fearful of crime, more closely knit, and better able to help 'heal' itself and those in its midst. Over time, such communities reap the benefit of the productivity of restored crime survivors and ex-offenders some of whom may assume leadership roles in the future.
Is Restorative Justice only about Crime?
NO! Restorative initiatives and restorative behaviour are relevant to all aspects of life. They have proven successful in the workplace, schools and numerous other community settings.
Is Restorative Justice Mediation?
NO! Mediation is but one of the many processes by which Restorative Justice may be effected. Other Restorative Justice processes include Family Group Conferencing, Circles, Healing Circles and Victim-Offender Dialogue.