Restorative Justice: Rooted in Respect
Oct 29, 2010
Reviewed by Lynette Parker
In Restorative Justice: Rooted in Respect, restorative justice practitioners and writers discuss the values and applications of the concepts. The 26-minute video starts with the following definition of restorative justice.
“Restorative justice provides a framework and approach to ensure all people are treated with dignity and respect as we seek to live in community with one another.
“The approaches empower us to be responsible for our actions and provide ways of holding one another accountable as we live and work together.”
While noting the importance of a justice system for the protection of human rights and maintaining of public safety, the speakers explain how the criminal justice system discourages offenders to take responsibility for their actions and often neglects the needs of victims. Restorative justice, on the other hand, brings both the offender and the victim into the response to criminal behaviour. In this way, those responsible for causing harm are empowered to take on responsibility for their behaviour and for making things right. Those that have been harmed have the opportunity to name their needs and have those met.
“Rooted in respect” refers to the key value of respecting one-another in dialogue and in all our responses to harmful behaviour. This respect is a humanising approach to justice for both the offender and the victim. At the same time, as Howard Zehr explains, restorative dialogues allow the community to discuss what values are important and what justice should look like.
The concepts of restorative justice can be found in many cultures. As Harley Eagle and others explain, many indigenous cultures recognise the connectedness of community members and how justice responses need to take these into account. They go on to describe the emergence of restorative justice in the 1970s and the various processes associated with it.
The featured speakers describe the ways in which restorative
discipline in schools can work to create a better learning environment. They highlight the use of restorative practices in responding to historical harms such as the removal and storage of remains from indigenous graves in the United States in the 1800s. The case of a Christian congregation responding to a sexual offense by one of its members illustrates one of many ways in which restorative justice can be applied.
In exploring the many facets of restorative justice principles and applications, Restorative Justice: Rooted in Respect offers a good introduction to key concepts for a variety of audiences. The DVD is available from the Mennonite Central Committee for $10.