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Restorative Justice

How Restorative Justice Can Help Everyone Impacted by Crime

Restorative justice is a philosophical approach to dealing with crime in the community and working to repair some (or in some cases, all) of the damage. It invokes the participation of victims, the community, and offenders. Dr. Howard Zehr, a scholar in restorative justice says we need to ask 3 questions: (1) what is the harm; (2) what needs to be done to repair the harm; and (3) who is responsible for the repair?

Restorative justice focuses on the ripple effect of crime against an individual or the community. Victims have the opportunity to express the full impact the crime has had on their lives, to receive answers to lingering questions about the incident (often times, the unanswered why me question), and to participate in holding the offender accountable for their actions and the impact they have caused. Offenders can tell their side of the story, such as why the crime occurred and how it has affected them personally. Offenders are given the opportunity to help in the healing process of the victim to whatever degree possible. Restorative justice helps support victims and communities in the hearing process—something traditional courts and punishments have ignored.

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