Restorative justice is a new movement in the fields of victimology and criminology. It is a way to acknowledge that crime causes injury to people and communities. It insists that justice repair those injuries and that the parties be permitted to participate in that process. Restorative justice programs, therefore, enable the victim, the offender and affected members of the community to be directly involved in responding to the crime. They become central to the criminal justice process, with governmental and legal professionals serving as facilitators of a system that aims at offender accountability, reparation to the victim and full participation by the victim, offender and community. The restorative process of involving all parties – often in face-to-face meetings – is a powerful way of addressing not only the material and physical injuries caused by crime, but the social, psychological and relational injuries as well.
A definition of restorative justice in simple terms is this: Restorative justice is a way of seeing crime as more than breaking the law – it also causes harm to people, relationships, and the community. So a just response must address those harms as well. If they are willing, the best way to do this is for the parties themselves to meet to discuss the harms and how to about bring resolution. (Other approaches are available if they are unable or unwilling to meet.) Sometimes those meetings lead to transformational changes in their lives.