Restorative justice and dialogue: Impact, opportunities, and challenges in the global community
Aug 13, 2012
The restorative justice movement is built on a foundational vision of an entirely different way of understanding and responding to crime and conflict. In some instances, restorative justice is seen as a replacement for the criminal justice system. In others, it is seen as an option to use when the current situation has failed to bring about its intended purpose. Under other circumstances, restorative justice is viewed as complementary to the criminal justice system because it attends to issues that the traditional system neglects.
Regardless of the position taken, the vision of restorative justice is grounded in values that are resonating with an increasingly broad range of individuals and communities throughout the world, presenting many opportunities for new and widened impact. A number of these opportunities are listed below; many others continue to emerge.
(1) Initiating a system-wide commitment to providing local citizens who are victimized by all but the most serious violent crime the opportunity to choose a local community-based restorative justice response first. Both parties would retain the legal right to go before the formal criminal or juvenile justice system if either felt that they were not treated fairly or were dissatisfied with the outcome of the restorative justice intervention….
(2) Developing an increasing number of hybrids that integrate the strengths and limitations of each individual restorative justice intervention process. For example, in more serious cases the use of victim-offender mediation on a small or intimate level could first be offered to the specific victim and offender. This more intimate mediation could later befollowed by a session involving a number of family members and support people; this phase could even be followed at a later time by a much larger community intervention involving a peacemaking circle of perhaps twenty to thirty individuals….
(3) Increasing the use of surrogate victim-offender community dialogue. Encounters with surrogates can be a partial response to the large volume of crime victims whose offenders are never caught. Such victims are equally in need of gaining a greater understanding of why people commit such crimes and letting others in the community know about the impact of these crimes on their lives….