Restorative justice is a paradigm that is distinct from criminal justice. Rather than asking traditional questions like “What law or rule was broken?;” Who broke it?;” and “What consequences or punishment do they deserve?;” restorative justice asks “Who has been affected?;” “What are their needs?;” “Who has the obligation to address the needs, right the wrongs and restore the relationships?” It’s an effective approach that seeks to engage, heal and transform both the victims and the perpetrators of a crime simultaneously.

Jon Kidde, project director of the Reclaiming Futures initiative in Chittenden County, Vermont, shared this recently during a webinar for Reclaiming Futures. The full presentation, “So, What Is Restorative Justice?” is now available on our website.  

This interactive workshop highlights restorative justice principles and explores its effectiveness as a primary prevention, intervention, and re-entry strategy in schools, communities and juvenile justice programs. In schools, for example, restorative justice has been shown to:

  • Reduce discipline referrals, violent and serious incidents, and punitive and exclusionary discipline responses;
  • Improve student attendance, test scores, and graduation rates; and
  • Enhance students’ ability to understand peers, manage emotions, develop greater empathy, resolve conflict with their parents, improve their home environment, and maintain positive relationships.

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