Restorative Justice is becoming popular, and I find that exciting. For example, some states have designated a person in their departmentof corrections to provide education and promote Restorative Justice. Here in California, there are several bills in the legislaturethat include the term "Restorative Justice."
The US Department of Justice recently sponsored a conference onRestorative Justice and has established several research projectsin an attempt to measure the effectiveness of some programs thatcall themselves Restorative Justice programs. Bibliographieson Restorative Justice now include several hundred titles. Weprovided training to help establish nine new VORPs last year,and this year the interest is growing. The list of examples couldgo on and on.
My hope is that the term "Restorative Justice" willbe filled with meaning to provide a guide and standard for howRestorative Justice is implemented and measured. My fear is thatthe term Restorative Justice may be used but the actions and outcomeswill not be restorative.
The Restorative Justice PrinciplesI presented in the newsletters last fall were an attempt to contributeto developing a common understanding of what we mean when we usethe term and a step toward how Restorative Justice might be implemented.
The table below offers some continuums that I think might be helpful inmeasuring our actions and/or outcomes to determine if our justiceprocesses are actually implementing Restorative Justice. I usecontinuums with the arrows extending them because they give usthe message that we are not talking about a simple either/or situation;nor are we likely to arrive at a place where it cannot be improved.
|Moral wrong of crime (violation of persons and relationships) minimized||not RJ<1-2-3-4-5>RJ||Moral wrong of crime recognized|
|Victim, community and offender safety concerns recognized||not RJ<1-2-3-4-5>RJ||Victim, community and offender safety concerns primary|
|Disempower victims, offenders and community from acting constructively||not RJ<1-2-3-4-5>RJ||Empower victims, offenders and community to act constructively|
|"Making things as right as possible" a secondary concern||not RJ<1-2-3-4-5>RJ||Primary focus on "making things as right as possible" (repair injuries, relationships and physical damage)|
|Primary focus on violation of law||not RJ<1-2-3-4-5>RJ||Violation of law a secondary concern|
|Victim wounds and healing ignored||not RJ<1-2-3-4-5>RJ||Victim wounds and healing important|
|Offender wounds and healing ignored||not RJ<1-2-3-4-5>RJ||Offender wounds and healing important|
|Primary decisions and activity between offender and gov't; offender family, victim and community ignored||not RJ<1-2-3-4-5>RJ||Primary decisions and activity between victim and offender (or substitutes) and their communities, with government help as needed|
|Actions of officials with coercive power or in positions of authority left unchecked||not RJ<1-2-3-4-5>RJ||All actions tested by whether they are reasonable, related and respectful|
|Government coercive/authority structures the primary response; victims, community and offender left out of process||not RJ<1-2-3-4-5>RJ||Government coercive/authority structures used as backup when victim or offender not cooperative or either sees the process as unfair|
|Coercion assumed as primary mode of relating to offenders; orders given to offender rather than inviting offender to be cooperative; no attempt at agreements||not RJ<1-2-3-4-5>RJ||Invitations to offender to be cooperative are primary; agreements preferred over orders; coercion backup response|
|Placements focus on restrictions and following orders||not RJ<1-2-3-4-5>RJ||Placements focus on safety and/or training and equipping for living in community|
|Religious/faith community not involved in justice process||not RJ<1-2-3-4-5>RJ||Religious/faith community encouraged and invited into cooperative aspects of justice process|
26 or Less Justice response dominated by government andvery costly: emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Highfear in the community. Many mini -communities alienated and angry. Very high crime rate.
52 or More Justice response balanced between governmentand community. Mini and macro communities empowered to participatein and contribute to the emotional, spiritual, and financial healthof all the members of the community. Very low crime rate.
Return to the Restorative Justice Project.