Both the Times and the Today stories do their audience a disservice by dwelling on forgiveness as the apparent reason for restorative justice. Forgiveness is neither an expectation nor a goal of restorative justice. Forgiveness may be a by-product, but the notion that a crime victim should forgive an offender imposes unrealistic and potentially hurtful demands on a crime victim.
....There is also evidence that restorative justice may reduce re-offending. "Restorative Justice: The Evidence," published in the UK by the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania, concluded that restorative justice conferences were as, or more effective than traditional methods of criminal justice for reducing crime with respect to nearly every group of offender studied.
A later research report, "Does restorative justice affect reconviction?" published by the University of Sheffield, UK, shows that face-to-face restorative justice conferences not only reduce crime but also cost less than traditional justice processes.
Offenders, victims and their supporters all benefit from the free exchange of emotion that happens in a restorative justice conference. The conference process provides a way for all participants to discover their common humanity and move forward. Although forgiveness sometimes happens, none of these benefits of restorative justice are predicated on the victim forgiving the offender.