Restorative justice is an ancient practice rooted in Indigenous informal social control. It is an alternative justice model where the victims are expected to be involved in all decision-making processes. It brings together victims, offenders, and communities to internally handle dispute resolution rather than through the penal court system (Johnstone, 2011). This approach to justice can be traced back to Canadian experiments in 1974 when a probation officer suggested that two young offenders meet their victims to understand the harm that they had caused (Johnstone, 2011). The first official sentencing circle happened in 1992 in the Canadian territory, the Yukon, which was in response to a high profile case where the offender’s community did not want him to go to jail and suggested a rehabilitation in the community (Johnstone, 2011). This event’s success led researchers to experiment with restorative justice as an alternative to the contemporary punitive criminal justice system (Johnstone, 2011). While retribution is based on punishment of those who violate laws, restorative justice aims to facilitate resolution among all parties involved and rehabilitate the perpetrator so that their likelihood of reoffending is reduced (Hermann, 2017).When looking at the efficacy of restorative justice, it is essential to look at examples such as the context of transition in Northern Ireland. Ireland faced approximately thirty years of conflict, with 3524 people killed and 35000 injured (McEvoy & Mika, 2002). The nation suffered a divide between police and communities, leading to ongoing social control and criminal justice issues. Informal justice was often practiced to deal with crime, as contemporary criminal justice was simply ineffective during the divide (McEvoy & Mika, 2002). Especially in Republican areas, vigilante justice took form as the nation lacked regular police practices. This resulted in a paramilitary response, which was quite brutal in nature (McEvoy & Mika, 2002). Shooting, beating, and banishment of offenders and criminals was a common practice. Human rights activists started discussing alternatives to break the cycle of a vigilante and paramilitary response (McEvoy & Mika, 2002). From this, the idea of creating a non-violent and community-based program for justice emerged. They believed that focusing on restorative justice would allow them to move away from the violent paramilitary tactics and move toward a peaceful way of dealing with crime (McEvoy & Mika, 2002).Our goal in the CRCT is to promote restorative justice as an alternative module healing practice in the Canadian justice system and raise awareness in the community, educational settings, and justice agencies regarding the effectiveness of restorative justice as an alternative form of justice. The CRCT is willing to achieve the mentioned goals by conducting workshops, training sessions, and hosting conferences regarding restorative justice.
The CRCT believes that if the crime is harmful, then justice should be healing. For further information about restorative justice, look at the following sources.
Hermann, D. (2017) “Restorative Justice and Retributive Justice: An Opportunity for Cooperation or an Occasion for Conflict in the Search for Justice,” Seattle Journal for Social Justice, 16(1), pp. 71-103.Johnstone, G. (2011) Restorative Justice: Ideas, Values, Debates London: Routledge – ebook
McEvoy, K., and Mika, H. (2002) Restorative Justice and the Critique for Informalism in Northern Ireland. British Journal of Criminology.
McLaughlin, E., Fergusson, R., Hughes, G., and Westmarland, L. (2004). Restorative Justice Critical Issues: Crime, Order and Social Control.Ministry of Justice (2014). Restorative Justice Action Plan for the Criminal Justice System for the Period to March 2018.