How I was drawn to Restorative Justice
This is a blog by Why me?’s communications intern Keeva Baxter.
Throughout my undergraduate degree in Law, I found myself drawn to the aspects of the legal system which were not fit for purpose. The course highlighted countless areas of law which let down those affected by crime or put barriers in the way of them accessing justice. Many victims of crime are left feeling isolated and disconnected from their own cases, often because they do not have an opportunity to share their story within the rigidity of the trial process. How could victim experiences be improved? I studied a Masters degree in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice at the University of Sussex to pursue this interest, with a particular focus on Restorative Justice.
Prior to studying criminal justice, I had heard about Restorative Justice but was unsure as to what it involved and why people would want to take part. I have now come to understand that there are a wide range of motivations for taking part which are different for each individual. Whether the harmed person wishes to express their anger, ask questions that were left unanswered, or explain how the incident harmed them, restorative practices can help them to do this. For the person who committed the crime, a restorative meeting can allow them to comprehend the effects of their actions, express remorse to the people they harmed and find ways to alter their behaviour to avoid further criminality.
This shows that Restorative Justice is an important way of filling the gaps left by the wider criminal justice system and allows the voices of people affected by crime to be heard. I would argue that the flexibility of Restorative Justice is its biggest strength as it widens the potential pool of participants and allows solutions to be tailored to their needs. When I came across Why me? I admired their attitude that no type of crime is off limits for consideration. This flexibility enables victims of all crimes to pursue Restorative Justice, avoiding the misconception that is only appropriate for lower level offences.
Despite its clear benefits, many victims of crime are not given adequate information about how to access Restorative Justice, making it an underused resource. Why me? work with restorative services across the country to improve access to Restorative Justice, and ensure that victims of crime are informed about it as an option. I look forward to contributing to this through my communications role.
Restorative Justice is a tool which can transform the recovery of people affected by crime. I look forward to working with Why me? to tear down barriers, and allow more people to access the intervention which they need to recover from crime.