Building justice that restores is about recognizing and advancing the dignity of human life. It promotes accountability for the responsible party, prioritizes harmed party participation, and cultivates community engagement.
- Justice that restores transitions the government from “playing the victim” of crime to being an administrator of justice.
- Justice that restores prioritizes and respects victims by providing assistance, validation, restitution, information, protection, and participation.
- Justice that restores compels responsible parties to make up for their harms and advocates for a just process, proportional punishment, a chance to make amends, a constructive culture, opportunities to earn trust, and closure.
- Justice that restores enables communities to facilitate justice through education, acceptance, support, civic participation and safety.
We have suffered decades of unproductive pendulum-swings in criminal justice. It is time to build what some may see as a new and radical model, but is actually a long-standing and well-proven one: justice that restores.
The injuries that crime victims and survivors experience can be significant. Crime disrupts lives. What's more, many victims feel re-victimized by the criminal justice system, especially when it excludes them from much of the process. Restorative justice promotes the need for harmed parties to be consistently considered throughout the criminal justice process. Although crime’s impact often leaves damage that can never be fully restored, harmed parties have legal rights that should be enforced. Some legal rights are unqualified and available without any contingencies. Other legal rights are qualified. That is, they are limited only as necessary to protect the victim from harm or to protect the due process rights of the responsible party. Crime survivors may need help regaining a sense of safety and control over their lives, and assistance with the material and other damages they suffer. Our criminal justice system should not be hindering the fulfillment of these needs.
Restorative justice requires the system to do more than warehouse people convicted of crimes. Restorative justice means holding these men and women accountable to accept responsibility for the harm they have caused to their victims and communities, and to take steps to make amends and rebuild trust with their communities.
Restorative justice also means delivering punishments that are proportional to the crime. It means treating those convicted of a crime with fairness and dignity, even if they are locked behind bars. And it means opening the door to a fresh start.
Restorative justice recognizes that crime doesn't just affect the perpetrators and victims, it also injures the community by eroding public safety and confidence, disrupting order, and undermining common values. A restorative justice response to crime considers these harms and engages communities in solutions. Governments promote safety by using proven crime reduction practices in criminal justice and promoting community education and participation in solutions.
Communities take an active role in giving support to harmed parties and supporting reintegration for responsible parties.