This is the second installment in a series of blog posts on justice and reconciliation, commonly known as restorative justice.
There are a variety of benefits and limitations related to restorative justice that should be considered prior to implementation.
Benefits may include:
- Affordability: The process of restorative justice is typically a cost-effective procedure that has the potential to save state and the federal governments money by preventing an offender from entering the criminal justice system. When the process is performed online through videoconferencing tools such as Zoom, transportation costs are reduced or eliminated entirely.
- Increased communication: Restorative justice allows a victim to have an active role in decision-making and provides the victim with an opportunity to voice questions, ask for explanations, and suggest next steps in order to make amends with the offender.
- Accountability: The restorative justice process has the potential to hold an offender accountable for his or her actions without stigmatization and provides an opportunity for rehabilitation for not only the offender, but also the victim and the community.
Limitations to Consider:
- Loss of sincerity: Participating in the restorative justice process is a personal, vulnerable experience. In situations where restorative justice is conducted online, talking to someone through a computer may hinder any real or perceived sincerity.
- Participation: In order to conduct an effective restorative justice procedure, all parties must be willing to participate and buy into the process. Unfortunately, this is not always possible.
- Reliving trauma: Restorative justice procedures require a victim to face the offender who caused his or her harm. Understandably, it can be incredibly difficult for victims to relive traumatic experiences in this way.
As discussed in a recent Disputing blog post, restorative justice can be a useful tool for providing offenders with an opportunity to not only take responsibility for their actions, but also make amends for any harm caused to victims and the community.