- ADR and mediation usually assume that there is a kind of moral balance between parties. RJ assumes that all participants are moral agents and acknowledges that moral responsibility may be shared; however, there is usually a moral imbalance that must be explicitly acknowledged. Someone has caused harm and someone has been harmed, and that fact is placed in the center of the encounter.
- Because of this moral imbalance, the “neutral” language of ADR can be difficult in criminal cases, especially in situations of severe violence. Someone who has lost a child through murder and is being invited to meet with the person responsible may find the language of “mediation” to be offensive.
- Although all parties may have some responsibility for the event and/or the outcomes, RJ usually provides space for wrongdoing to be named. Also, the process is designed to ensure that satisfactory and appropriate accountability occurs. In my experience, this is rarely part of ADR – though it could be.
- ADR often envisions its facilitators as neutral or impartial; RJ practitioners are more likely to see their role, in the language of Dave Gustafson, as “balanced partiality.” RJ facilitators cannot be neutral or impartial about the harm that was done, yet must care equally for and support all parties....
Restorative justice, mediation and ADR
from Howard Zehr's article on Restorative Justice Blog:
....There are some significant overlaps in theory and practice between RJ and ADR/mediation: mediation, for example, does require some of the same skills as restorative practices, and some of the underlying assumptions or theories are similar. Moreover, restorative practices such as circle processes can be used in many of the same kinds of situations in which one would use ADR approaches. In a broad perspective, encounter approaches within RJ can be seen as conflict-resolving, problem-solving approaches to harm.
But there are also some significant differences, especially when applied to the kind of cases that are dealt with in the criminal justice realm....
In what follows I will outline what I see to be some of the differences between RJ and ADR/mediation. I am aware, however, that in doing so I am using broad caricatures and depending on the specific approaches, these differences may not in reality be so clear.