This summary of material from five regional symposia on restorative justice sponsored by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) addresses the principles, practices, and promotion of restorative justice.
Restorative justice is not presented as a specific program, but rather as a set of principles that can be implemented in a variety of program designs. The seven restorative justice principles are as follows: Crime inflicts harm directly on victims and indirectly on the quality of life in the community; victims and the community are central in the response to crime; the top priority of justice processes is to repair harms to victims and restore their quality of life; the second priority is to restore quality of life to the community; the offender is held responsible for causing and remedying harm to the victim and community; stakeholders share responsibility for structuring restorative justice responses to crime; and the offender is responsible for learning and demonstrating positive behavioral changes that prevent future victimizations. After outlining these restorative justice principles, this report presents arguments and suggestions for changing current criminal justice processes to reflect restorative justice principles; barriers to the change process are noted. Another section of the report details a few of the many perspectives reflected in the forms of restorative justice processes that have been implemented; their benefits are discussed along with lessons learned. Promising practices in structuring restorative justice principles are described. These include circle sentencing, crime boards, family group conferencing, community policing, neighborhood probation, school-based probation, community courts, and community prosecution. Guidance is provided on the challenges and techniques for achieving the changes needed in the justice system to reflect restorative justice principles. References and resources are listed.
Date Published: January 1, 1998