Restorative Justice Matters and Works

Published: Tuesday, June 27th, 2023

In this blog, our Director Lucy Jaffé reflects on the global Restorative Justice gathering in Pamplona last month.


At a time when Ukraine is under attack, there is mass migration, increasing inequality and the climate is changing rapidly, it is easy to despair. But, I believe that people have the potential to live fulfilling lives and that we can not only deal with crime and conflict, but reduce it. Restorative Justice offers a different lens on the world and is part of the solution for a positive way forward.

The potential for restorative change was illustrated to me by the inspirational gathering of 130 global delegates in Navarra last week, organised by the European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ) Conference. We heard from experts who are embedding restorative practice in schools, universities, the judiciary, justice ministries and even cities. Most striking was that we were hosted by the Minister of Migration Policies and Justice of Navarre, Eduardo Santos (pictured), who has set up a Restorative Justice department. Headed by Jorge Ollero Peran, the professional team are working in prisons and the community – they have 900 of the 5000 cases in the justice system on their books.

Key ingredients for success: Leadership, processes to make it work and the people to deliver.

Navarra are not alone. Annie Devos, Belgian Director for the Houses of Justice in Wallonia-Brussels, laid out how she is embedding Restorative Justice in probation across the region. She had introduced a systematic approach, and acknowledged that restorative values and methods cut horizontally across the criminal justice hierarchy and protocols. But, her results are stunning and she is determined to continue this vital work.


“You need Restorative Justice!” stated Spanish Criminal Judge, Anna Carrascosa (pictured), who argued that judges are critical for a Criminal Justice System to change as they are the top of the justice tree. She laid out a concrete programme for them so that they could really understand the benefits of Restorative Justice, but also pointed out that training needed to be exciting and motivating, not boring (I got the impression that she had sat through hours of uninspiring lectures in her judicial career). I agree that judges are critical.

The Why me? Economic Evaluation research, which Frank Grimsey Jones (by video) and I presented, alongside Mariama Diallo (Coordinator of the Child Friendly Justice European Network), stimulated a discussion about how to build an economic case for child-friendly Restorative Justice. Understanding the social return on investment of Restorative Justice is an absolutely critical foundation stone on which to base policy change. I also contributed to a polarisation, hate crime and violent extremism workshop, showcasing the work of Why me? and the Working Group of the same name, which I co-chair for the EFRJ. With rising hate and despair about how to address violent extremist acts and radicalisation, this group is very timely. If you are interested to find out more, read the latest Policy and Practice papers.

Finally I am delighted to be accepted as a Board member of the European Forum for Restorative Justice – co-opted for a year. This is a non-executive role into which I will take the knowledge, wisdom and expertise of the Why me? founders, ambassadors, volunteers, staff and Board I have learnt from over the last 12 years to build a strong international voice for Restorative Justice on both European and global platforms.

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