So I was reading something recently about the charity Restorative Justice which, in their words: gives victims the chance to tell offenders the real impact of their crime, to get answers to their questions and to receive an apology. It gives the offenders the chance to understand the real impact of what they’ve done and to do something to repair the harm. RJ holds offenders to account for what they have done, personally and directly, and helps victims to get on with their lives.Restorative processes are also being used successfully outside the Criminal Justice System, for example, in schools, workplaces, care homes, health services and communities.
It doesn’t always work but can often bring about some resolutions apparently. Two stories illustrate how it helps with minor crimes:
- a teenager drunk for the first time (and on medication) with his mates surrounds a milkman in the middle of the night intimidating him and then smashing a crate of milk. In the meeting the milkman explained the economics of milk delivery and that he’d have to pay for the losses and also how he felt. They talk and the lad is really sorry, pays the damages and the milkman gave him a part time job!
- a young lad graffittis an old people’s home, has a meeting with a staff member and a resident, ends up painting a picture for the living room at the home. Warms the cockles…
- 41% of victims say they want to meet the offender; and 51% say they think RJ would work better than prison to reduce re-offending. 75-95% of victims who do take part in RJ are glad they did so
- RJ has been shown to reduce the post-traumatic stress symptoms of victims, and help them return to work following serious crimes
- Research from around the world shows that RJ can substantially reduce re-offending rates in many cases
Strikes me this restorative justice thing works pretty well with kids when they upset each other too…? Thoughts…