Restorative Justice

Restorative justice is an approach to justice that focuses on the needs of victims and offenders, instead of implementing the laws and principles of the justice systems. Victims are given an active role in a dispute and offenders are expected to take responsibly for their actions by repairing the harm they’ve might have caused by apologising, returning stolen money, or doing community service.
Some examples of restorative justice programmes include:
- Victim offender mediation;
- Family group conferencing;
- Sentencing circles; and
- Victim offender reconciliation panels.
Good restorative justice programmes have well-trained facilitators who are sensitive to the needs of victims and offenders, who know the community in which the crime took place and who understand the dynamics of the criminal justice system. So if done correctly this programme is very beneficial to both sides of the predicament.
I personally think this is a good programme, as everyone makes mistakes as our judgement is not always clear, and by saying this it is a perfect solution to low level crime situations. In Addition, I believe that restorative justice should only be available to offenders when:
- an offender admits guilt, accepts responsibility for his or her actions and agrees to participate in the program;
- the victim of the crime freely agrees to participate in the program, without feeling pressured to do so; and
- Trained facilitators are available in the community and a restorative justice program is in place.
On the other hand, when dealing with offenders that have committed serious offences, I don’t think this option should be available outside of a jail compound. It should definitely be incorporated into their rehabilitation programme, which they do over a sentence. In conclusion I feel that restorative justice is the best way to resolve low level disputes.