Source: (2004) Papers presented at the Third Conference of the European Forum for Victim-Offender Mediation and Restorative Justice, 'Restorative Justice in Europe: Where are we heading?', Budapest, Hungary, 14-16 October. Downloaded 22 September 2005.

For the last decade, the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), which grew out of the Real Justice program, has been developing a comprehensive framework for practice and theory that expands the restorative paradigm beyond criminal justice (McCold & Wachtel, 2003). Academicians and practitioners tend to do their work within their own distinct disciplines and professions. In contrast, the emerging field of “restorative practices�? offers a common thread to tie together theory and research in seemingly disparate fields of study and practice. The restorative practices framework presented here is the collective effort of the IIRP’s staff and friends around the world. Since the founding of the IIRP’s Real Justice program in 1994, we have attempted to find or develop applicable theory and definition to apply not only to restorative justice, but also to all the related fields that might benefit from this new way of thinking. The fundamental unifying hypothesis of restorative practices is disarmingly simple: that human beings are happier, more productive and more likely to make positive changes in their behavior when those in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them. This hypothesis maintains that the punitive and authoritarian to mode and the permissive and paternalistic for mode are not as effective as the restorative, participatory, engaging with mode. If this restorative hypothesis is valid, then it has significant implications for many disciplines. For example, contemporary criminal justice and educational disciplinary practices rely on punishment to change behavior. As the number of prison inmates and excluded students grows unabated, the validity of that approach is very much in question. In a similar vein, social workers doing things for and to children and families have not turned back the tide of abuse and neglect. (excerpt)