Source: (2006) Papers presented at the Fourth Conference of the European Forum for Restorative Justice, “Restorative justice: An agenda for Europe”, Barcelona, Spain, 15-17 June 2006.

The article identifies social healing as the key value that should underpin restorative justice. This builds on the work of Bazemore (2001: 209) who states healing is ‘[T]he first and most important big idea of the restorative perspective…’ It is a value that has even been obscured by intra-restorative debates, particularly those that have dichotomised process and outcome. Through the focus on healing, it is argued that it is possible to gain a more convincing commitment to restorative principles through which a challenge to the taken-for-granted assumptions of traditional criminal justice can take place. It is our contention that healing has the potential to take place on three levels –the individual level, between victims and offenders; at the criminal justice policy level where those implementing restorative justice strategies can bring about institutional changes through their practice; at the societal level where greater community and inter-agency involvement in restorative processes become the filter through which, to use Zehr’s analogy, the lens is changed. (excerpt)