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Victim-Centered Restorative Justice: An Essential Distinction

Wilson, Jon.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) The Crime Victims Report. 9(4): 49,50,62.

It is a profound irony that restorative justice (RJ), an approach designed to support deeper understanding among members of our society, remains a polarizing and volatile issue between certain RJ practitioners and some of the advocates, victims, and survivors they work with. The process that was intended to focus more on individual harms to victims and their ‘repair’ – and on a more personal sense of accountability among offenders – has placed some victims at considerable risk of being emotionally revictimized, or worse. The hope and promise of a sense of healing and justice for victims has been eroded by the attitudes of those practitioners who lack an adequate understanding of the victim experience at any level, not to mention the trauma and unrelenting symptomology of PTSD in the aftermath of crimes of severe violence. Indeed, RJ has become increasingly synonymous with expectations of forgiveness and reconciliation, instead of addressing harms and enabling accountability. This is not news to many victims/survivors and their advocates, but the situation is creating increasingly deeper divisions in the field.


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