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Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Restorative Justice

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2010
9 pages
Based on a literature review, this paper defines "restorative justice," followed by descriptions of various structured manifestations that implement its principles, as well as evaluation findings for each of the forms discussed.
Restorative justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by criminal behavior. Practices and programs that reflect restorative purposes will respond to crime by identifying and taking steps to repair harm caused by the crime at issue; involve all stakeholders; and transform the traditional relationship between communities and government in responding to crime. Family group conferences, one manifestation of restorative justice principles are facilitated discussions that allow those most affected by a particular crime (victim, offenders, and family and friends of both) to discuss the crime's impact and decide how the offender should be held accountable. Evaluation research shows promising outcomes for these conferences. Victim-impact panels, another form of restorative justice, are forums in which surrogates for crime victims, usually family members, explain in the presence of the offender how the crime has impacted the victim. The offender is present so he/she can be confronted with the adverse consequences of his/her criminal behavior. Evaluation findings for victim-impact panels are limited and contradictory, but promising. Victim-offender mediation, a third form of restorative justice, provides victims the opportunity to meet offenders in a safe and structured setting where they engage in conversation, negotiation, and problemsolving. The intent is for offenders to become aware of the consequences of their victimizing behavior and discuss with the victim plans for making amends for the harm done. Evaluation research shows that this process produces several positive effects for both victims and offenders. Other forms of restorative justice reviewed are community reparative boards and "circle sentencing." 23 references

Date Published: November 1, 2010