Source: (2000) In Victim-offender mediation in Europe: Making restorative justice work, ed. The European Forum for Victim-Offender Mediation and Restorative Justice, 99-121. With an introduction by Tony Peters. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press.

In this paper, Weitekamp reviews the historical background of restorative justice. While restorative justice is a new term, and while many of its associated terms (such as reparation, restitution, compensation, community service) are used with a number of varied meanings, he points to the ancient and traditional lineage of restorative justice. He asserts that for most of human history throughout the world restorative justice has been the dominant criminal justice model in response to wrongdoing. In contrast, he maintains that the rehabilitative and retributive models of responding to wrongdoing – as evidenced in Western societies – are comparatively modern innovations. In recent decades, however, restorative justice has come to the attention of scholars, criminal justice officials, and practitioners in the field of criminal justice. Restorative justice focuses on the victim in responding to crime. It seeks more humane sanctions for the offender. It aims to involve the victim and the community in correction and rehabilitation of the offender. It prescribes sanctions that are comparatively easy and inexpensive to administer. It benefits society by offering creative alternatives to revenge and vengeance. Victim-offender mediation and restorative justice programs appear to have shown themselves effective in producing higher victim satisfaction, equal or higher offender satisfaction, and strengthening of community values and structures. At the same time, victim-offender mediation and restorative justice programs often suffer from unsystematic and limited implementation, restriction to minor offenses and juveniles, and control from the larger criminal justice system.