Three Core Elements of Restorative Justice

Restorative justice is a response to wrongdoing that prioritizes repairing harm and recognizes that maintaining positive relationships with others is a core human need. It seeks to address the root causes of crime, even to the point of transforming unjust systems and structures.

The three core elements of restorative justice are the interconnected concepts of Encounter, Repair and Transform. Each element is discrete and essential. Together they represent a journey toward wellbeing and wholeness that victims, offenders and community members can experience. Encounter leads to repair, and repair leads to transformation.


Encounter is the starting point, a facilitated meeting that brings together people most impacted by crime to determine how to repair harm. Encounters start with an invitation, and all parties participate voluntarily. There are three keys to effective encounters.

  • Before offenders can participate, they must take responsibility for their wrong and want to make amends.
  • All stakeholders impacted by the wrongdoing—victims, offenders, and community members—have a voice in the justice process.
  • Meetings that are encounters occur in safe spaces, foster vulnerability, and include free sharing without judgment.


Because crime harms people and tears apart both relationships and communities, restorative justice seeks to repair harm from a broad perspective. Each stakeholder has unique needs that arise from crime. Repair addresses:

  • The victim’s need for healing. Victims heal through the encounter and its outcomes.
  • The offender’s need to make amends, as offenders must atone for wrongdoing and work to regain good standing in community. Encounters empower offenders to make amends directly to victims and potentially community members.
  • The community’s need for relational health and safety. Family, friends, and others support victims and offenders as they heal and reintegrate into community.


Restorative encounters create spaces that lead to transformed individuals— victims and offenders – and pinpoint root causes of crime, even systemic and structural issues.

Once identified, these systemic issues can be faced, dealt with, and potentially changed to foster more just systems and healthier, safer communities.

Restorative Justice Theory of Change

By transforming the lives of two million prisoners so they desist from criminal lifestyles, PFI theorizes that a tipping point will occur that will lead to significantly reduced global crime levels.

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Restorative Justice in 1 Minute

A program is restorative to the degree stakeholders come together in a dialogue (“encounter”) that meets stakeholder needs (“repair”). Values that are prized and intentionally cultivated in restorative justice processes are respect, inclusion, empowerment, safety, and accountability. Restorative justice is inherently solution-oriented, enacting steps toward healing and reintegration in proactive ways.

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