Expanded Glossary

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Restorative Justice

A DEFINITION:
restorative justice: An approach to healing conflict that brings all parties involved to be accountable for restoring individuals and their community; aspects are based on the practices of various Indigenous communities.

CONTEXT & HISTORY:
Restorative Justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by crime and conflict. It places decisions in the hands of those who have been most affected by a wrongdoing, and gives equal concern to the victim, the offender, and the surrounding community.
Restorative responses are meant to repair harm, heal broken relationships, and address the underlying reasons for the offense. It emphasizes individual and collective accountability. Crime and conflict generate opportunities to build community and increase grassroots power when restorative practices are employed. (Portland Means Progress)

Restorative Justice along with Transformative Justice are based in addressing harm as opposed to enacting punishment.

Restorative Justice, defined by Howard Zehr of the Zher Institute for Restorative Justice, “is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.” In the United States, RJ, as we have come to know it, “emerged in the 1970s as an effort to correct some of the weaknesses of the western legal system while building on its strengths.” However, it is also important to name that many RJ practices, such as talking circles, have been adopted from Indigenous practices around the world. (How Advocates Can Better Understand Transformative Justice… by Laura Chow Reeve)

MEDIA LINKS:
Justice in America “What Justice Could Look Like” (63-minute listen) with transcript (35-minute read)

Restorative Justice: Why Do We Need It? (3-minute video)

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