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Justice, fairness and mediation
Justice, fairness and mediation

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3.1 Principles of restorative justice

In a practical sense, restorative justice involves three main principles:

  • making the offender take responsibility for his or her criminal action
  • allowing reintegration of the offender into the community
  • encouraging reparation being made to the victim.

Implicit in these principles is a ‘shift in accountability’ (Eriksson, 2009, p. 1) from offenders having a debt to society to offenders being held – and perhaps also holding themselves – accountable to the victims of crime (Corrado et al., 2003).

The process of restorative justice

Johnstone (2003) argues that in order to achieve the sorts of outcomes typically associated with restorative justice, a number of key approaches and processes are required. This includes interventions that:

  • encourage offenders to undertake appropriate reparative acts
  • instil repentance within offenders and facilitate its communication
  • facilitate the social reacceptance of offenders who have expressed repentance and made serious efforts to repair the damage they caused
  • assist ex-offenders who are making serious efforts to refrain from further offending
  • promote the healing of victims and survivors of crime.

Johnstone continues by emphasising that:

by promoting respectful and constructive dialogue between victims and offenders (and between offenders and the community) such encounters bring offenders to appreciate the harmful consequences of their behaviour and enable victims and offenders to come to a better understanding of each other. Also, by giving victims an effective voice within the criminal justice process, and giving them the opportunity to see and hear their offender, these processes contribute to the recovery of victims from their traumatic experience.

(Johnstone, 2003)