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Restorative Justice: An Overview

NCJ Number
T F Marshall
Date Published
39 pages
This overview of "restorative justice" encompasses its definition, origins, examples, research, implications for crime policy, related theories, and major issues in its development.
The commonly accepted definition for "restorative justice" used internationally is "a process whereby parties with a stake in a specific offense resolve collectively how to deal with the aftermath of the offense and its implications for the future." Objectives of restorative justice are to attend to victims' needs, reintegrate offenders into the community, enable offenders to assume responsibility for their action, recreate a working community that supports victims and offender rehabilitation, and avoid escalation of legal justice and the associated costs and delays. Some of the assumptions of restorative justice are that crime originates in social conditions and relationships in the community; that crime prevention depends on communities taking responsibility for remedying conditions that cause crime; that the aftermath of crime must include the personal participation of those involved in the crime; and that justice measures must be sufficiently flexible to respond to the particular circumstances, personal needs, and appropriate action in each case. It is generally accepted by advocates of restorative justice that it can and should be integrated as far as possible with criminal justice as a complementary process that improves the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of justice as a whole. Examples of restorative justice in practice include victim-offender meetings that may result in restitution and community service performed by the offender; community support for victims; and community efforts to help offenders in the areas of employment, education, mentoring, and social integration. Other topics covered in this paper are the limitations of restorative justice, organizations that promote restorative justice, research on restorative justice practice, restorative justice and crime policy, major issues in the development of restorative justice, and theories related to restorative justice. 120 references