Source: (2000) Lay Panel Magazine . 44(September):8-21.
Restorative justice is a philosophy that views crime as harming victims, offenders, and the community. When harm, in the form of crime, is done, it creates obligations to repair that harm, to look forward, rather than back, to determine what can be done to heal the harm and restore equilibrium. The retributive justice paradigm, on the other hand, views crime as a violation of the law and the state as the victim. Justice is achieved by means of a contest between adversaries to determine guilt and dispense punishment proportionate to the seriousness of the crime. The implementation of due process for the defendant is a central focus of this paradigm. Restorative justice focuses on the needs of victims by being attentive to the specific harms done to the victim by the offender’s behavior, giving the victim a voice in declaring how the crime has affected his/her life, and involving the victim in the framing of a plan for healing. Restorative justice also focuses on offender needs, as he/she is made aware of how the crime has affected the victim, is given the opportunity to atone for the crime and repair the harm, and learns how to behave positively toward others. The community benefits from restorative justice through restoration of its faith in the system, being given a chance to be heard, involvement with those affected, and making a contribution to community safety. Family conferencing is presented as an example of a forum that facilitates the implementation of the restorative justice philosophy. Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org.
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