Prof. Llewellyn says restorative justice often offers a more satisfying process — and result — for victims than traditional adversarial approaches.

“If you ask people who have been harmed what justice looks like — beyond just what the system normally gives them — they will tell you, ‘I want my harm acknowledged. I want it to be recognized. I want to know why this happened. Not just who did it, not just the facts. I want to understand how and why this could happen to me and to others. I want to know it won't happen again. And I want some sort of process that I’m going to have a voice in and have faith can actually put in place a plan that this won't happen again.’”

The format of restorative justice approaches varies depending on the needs of the parties involved. At Dalhousie, for example, some restorative justice processes begin with a conflict resolution manager meeting privately with all of the parties involved in a conflict. From there, these parties come together in a “circle” or “conference,” where they meet face-to-face and explain what actions caused harm and how, why those actions may have occurred and what steps are necessary to resolve the issue. The participants who have been harmed, as well as those who caused the harm, must agree to the steps that might be required to resolve the issue.

Prof. Llewellyn points out that restorative justice can be an intense process for those who have caused harm, requiring significant work from them to make amends. More importantly, it is more likely to result in meaningful shifts in behaviour. She cites a study entitled Restorative Justice: The Evidence, by University of Cambridge researcher Lawrence Sherman and Dr. Heather Strang, director for the Centre for Restorative Justice at the Australian National University, that indicates parties involved in restorative justice cases generally feel high levels of satisfaction with their outcomes....

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