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Crimes cause harms. Harms create obligations to which offenders need to be responsible and accountable directly to victims and communities.
Restorative Justice focuses on the harm and the needs created by the harm. Restorative Justice can happen in conjunction with prosecution of violated statutes and the imposition of punishments, or it can replace traditional prosecution and sentencing in certain cases.
The parties with stakes in the restorative justice process are Victim, Offender and Community. It is designed to put right the wrong by involving all those who have stake in a specific harm. Then it collectively identifies and addresses harms, needs, and obligations, in order to begin healing and put things as right as possible.
Restorative Justice is not:
- soft on crime
- specifically about forgiveness & reconciliation, although those often occur
- designed to reduce recidivism or repeating offenses, although those are frequent outcomes
- not a particular program or format
- a panacea nor a replacement for the legal industry
- an alternative to prison
- the opposite of retribution
- begins healing and helps put things as right as possible
- creates a realization and acceptance the harm has changed the lives of the stakeholders
- creates a realization and acceptance the stakeholders cannot go back, but can go forward
- helps build a consensus of what actions by the stakeholders will begin the healing process and move them toward a reconciliation
- guarantees the stakeholders will follow through
- establish an assurance of fairness to all stakeholders