Restorative Justice FAQ
The majority of victims of crime who go through Restorative Justice find the process beneficial. Many people want to ask questions about the crime. Many want to tell the person responsible what the consequences of their actions were. Many want to ensure that they don’t offend again. There are a multitude of benefits that can arise for people affected by crime who go through Restorative Justice. Here are stories from people who have experienced some of these benefits.
No. Forgiveness is a personal choice, and no one will ever be pressured to forgive the person who harmed them. Restorative Justice can still be extremely valuable to both parties without forgiveness.
Yes. The only criteria are that both parties need to consent to the process, and a trained facilitator decides that it is safe to proceed.
The Restorative Justice process is in the hands of a trained facilitator, and confidentiality is taken very seriously. Facilitators will not allow the process to go ahead if they do not consider it safe to do so.
No. Restorative Justice can be used alongside prison sentences or any other kind of punishment. Why me? have facilitated successful cases of Restorative Justice while people have been in prison, and their sentences have not been reduced as a result of Restorative Justice. Restorative Justice can also be used as part of a Out of Court Disposal, depending on the severity of the crime in question. As always, Restorative Justice will only go ahead with both parties’ consent.
Restorative Justice can happen at any time during the criminal justice process, including alongside a prison sentence. Restorative Justice is not traditionally appropriate when someone does not accept responsibility for the crime though. So if a case is going to court, any Restorative Justice meeting would normally take place post-sentencing.
Despite traditional Restorative Justice taking place when a crime has been committed, some forms of restorative interventions can take place outside of the criminal justice system as well.
It is possible to adjust Restorative Justice if needed. This could include facilitating communication by letter writing, recording statements, sending representatives or a number of other adjustments. These practices can be very beneficial for some people, but the greatest potential benefit still comes from a face to face meeting if possible.
Restorative Justice is an entirely voluntary process, and both parties can pull out at any time. You can also take a break to regain your composure and then still go ahead with the Conference. It is common for people to be nervous about meeting the person who committed the crime against them, but people often tell us that meeting the person again was not as frightening as they expected, and that it allowed them to regain power over the situation.
Restorative Justice only goes ahead with both parties’ consent. In normal circumstances, it can only go ahead if the person who committed the offence accepts responsibility for their actions. However, if you have been the victim of crime from someone who doesn’t accept full responsibility, it is still worth getting in touch with a restorative service if you are interested. Restorative Justice has taken place in some cases despite the perpetrator not accepting full responsibility for what they have done. Whether or not this is appropriate depends on what the victim of crime seeks to get out of the Restorative Justice meeting, and whether their expectations are realistic.