Restorative Justice

Restorative justice refers to a theory of justice, best accomplished
via cooperative processes, that lays emphasis on repairing the harm that
is revealed or caused by a criminal behavior (Seiter, 2011). It lays
emphasis on the reintegration of the offender into the community, and is
based on the notion that once the offender accepts responsibility and
taken steps to repair the harm caused to the highest possible extent,
reintegration would only occur in the existence of acknowledgment by
both the community and the victim that responsibility has been accepted
and repair achieved (Seiter, 2011). A pure restorative justice model is
made up of four stages. First, there is the encounter where
opportunities are created for the offenders, victims and interested
community members meet to discuss the offense and the aftermath
(Braithwaite, 2002). Second, there is the amends stage where the
offenders are expected to take steps to assuage the harm resulting from
their offense. Third, there is the reintegration which seeks to restore
the offenders and their victims to while, contributing society members
(Braithwaite, 2002). Lastly, there is the inclusion stage which provides
the stakeholders in specific offenses with opportunities to play a role
in resolving them.
While it may be considered as a new concept, Vermont introduced its
version of restorative justice called Reparative Probation in 1995.
Local citizens meet the offenders convicted of minor felonies
recommended by the Vermont District Court (Braithwaite, 2002). These
offenders meet the Board and discuss the effects of the offense and come
up with a plan for restoration of the community and victims, as well as
design a plan for averting re-offense.
Restorative justice concepts are considered a new sentencing and
corrections paradigm to be expanded in the future thanks to its
recognition of the importance of the involvement and initiative of the
community in responding to and combating crime instead of leaving the
entire problem to the government.
References
Seiter, R. P. (2011). Corrections: An introduction (3rd ed.). Upper
Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Braithwaite, J (2002). Restorative Justice & Responsive Regulation. New
York: Oxford Univ. Press.
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