Source: (1996) US Dept of Justice National Institute of Justice.

This report presents a summary of the proceedings of a symposium designed to identify the characteristics of "restorative justice," review the applications of the concept in juvenile justice and criminal justice systems, and examine issues in measuring the success of restorative justice. The symposium participants were practitioners experienced in programs geared toward the restorative justice practice as well as other interested researchers. Following opening remarks, a general session involved a panel discussion of the nature of "restorative justice." The panel noted that whereas "retributive justice" focuses on punishment and pain to be inflicted on those found guilty of law-breaking, "restorative justice" aims to heal victims, offenders, and the community from the ravages of the consequences of criminal behavior. A general session on the applications of restorative justice in juvenile justice and criminal justice systems addresses systemic change for restorative justice and specific program applications of restorative justice. Systemic change focuses on a structure that reflects the goals of holding offenders accountability while mounting programs that reduce recidivism, ensures that victims' needs are met, and involves the community in addressing and preventing the consequences of crime. Some of the programs that implement restorative justice are family group conferencing, update communication letters to victims and community notifications, victim-offender mediation for better restitution and healing, cognitive skill training for offenders, and a community effort to perform repairs at crime scenes. Groups that examined measures of the success of restorative justice considered such measures as the degree of community involvement, victim satisfaction, whether and how the offender has changed, whether the public is safer, and cost factors. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org.