What is Restorative Justice?
In these troubled times we often hear about how people should get longer prison sentences or harsher punishments in schools. Years ago there was a saying, “Spare the rod, spoil the child” the idea being that by not hitting a child we are somehow spoiling this individual.
Luckily we have moved on. Restorative Justice is taking on board these changes in our communities in a way that the existing Justice system hasn’t. Restorative Justice is about using a set of principles to aid the recovery of anyone involved in a crime or incident, be it victim, offender, witness, school child or family member. This philosophy is based on respect of individuals and a need to address the limitations that the current legal system puts in place.
Restorative Justice isn’t just about the legal system but other institutions that have a more punitive view of justice. These institutions almost always remove the emotion and the personalities of those involve and deal with the age old question of right and wrong. Restorative Justice can provide us with a new way of seeing wrong doing. This is done by sticking to core principles. Therefore whatever intervention is chosen, be it Circle Time in School, Victim-Offender Mediation , Reparation Activities or holding a Family Group Conference there are certain key principles in place which are adhered to.
These key principles of Restorative Justice are focusing on needs and roles and how these roles and needs impact on our dealings with people and recovery of the negative things that happen to us. When delivering any Restorative Justice intervention it is important to ensure all involved get the information they need, that the truth is told, that people feel empowered and have the right to make decisions about their lives once more and that the perpetrator or wrong doer gets the opportunity to put things right and repair the damage they have caused. There is also a philosophy of personal and social responsibility within Restorative Justice which helps people come to terms with what they have done and how to make it better.
Balance Mediation can offer a range of interventions such as Family Group Conferencing, Circle Time, mediation in Schools or Victim-Offender Mediation or facilitating Community Engagement.
Where can it be used?
It can be used in schools, youth clubs or sports clubs with incidents of bullying or just to prevent incidents from arising. It can be used after a case has been taken to court and there are still unresolved issues or unanswered questions about what has happened. It can also be carried out between families in dispute or in need of support from numerous agencies.