Why Restorative Justice?
Criminal justice systems are in trouble. It’s easy to feel hopeless about broken systems, but there is a solution. It’s called restorative justice. And it works.
How Crime Hurts Everyone
Broken criminal justice systems help perpetuate the cycle of crime.
Lengthy Pre-Trial Detention
Millions of prisoners around the world are held in crowded, inhumane conditions as they wait for trial. Often, they wait longer than the maximum sentence they could receive if found guilty.
Many justice systems focus on punishment for wrongdoings, rather than creating rehabilitative environments where prisoners can learn personal responsibility for their behavior
Victims of crime receive little help to recover from their trauma. They are ignored except when called as a witness in a prosecution.
Families and children of prisoners live in poverty in remote, hard-to-reach communities. They are often ostracized for being related to a prisoner and are at risk for physical harm and emotional trauma.
How Restorative Justice Repairs Harm
Restorative justice is best accomplished through cooperative processes that allow willing prisoners and victims to meet and explore topics such as personal responsibility and making amends. This can lead to the transformation of people, relationships, and communities.
Restorative Justice Is A Worldwide Phenomenon
- Recovering indigenous justice practices that focus on restoration
- Use of community service to address chronic prison overcrowding
- National restorative responses to genocide and civil war
- South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- Focuses on juvenile justice
- Regularizes indigenous practices that focus on restoration
- Focuses on peacemaking and reconciliation in divided societies
- Addresses juvenile justice
- Focuses on alternatives to paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland
- Addresses justice reform needs in Eastern Europe
- Justice reforms to counteract increasing rates of crime and violence while increasing citizen confidence in justice systems
- National reconciliation efforts after years of civil war
- Communities looking for alternative ways of addressing violence and conflict to create a culture of peace
- Restorative justice is related to the use of traditional processes for conflict resolution while others deal with child welfare or juvenile justice issues
North America and the Caribbean
- Rose out of indigenous practices of First Nations people, discontent with the justice system, and a need to meet the needs of victims
- Used in prison, schools, and child welfare issues
- Well established as a manner of responding to crime
- Holds roots in indigenous practices
- Used to address crime, school discipline, and other types of conflicts
Making a World of Difference
We envision a future in which restorative justice is the normal response to crime. For this to take place, there will need to be changes in perspectives, policies, and practices. Prison Fellowship International helps our more than one hundred partner ministries around the world develop, advance, and promote the timeless principles of justice and reconciliation in their criminal justice systems.
Changing Perspectives About Justice
A growing number of people support restorative justice, but many more have yet to learn about it or may question its appropriateness. We provide a number of ways to help them explore restorative justice as an alternative perspective on justice in the aftermath of crime.
Changing Justice System Policies
For restorative justice to be the normal way of responding to crime, criminal justice policy barriers must be removed, and new policies implemented to encourage its use. We engage in reform projects to incorporate restorative policies in justice systems.
Changing How Victims and Offenders are Treated
Our programs provide victims with support in the aftermath of crime, create in-prison communities of restoration for offenders, and bring victims and offenders together in conversation about crime and justice.