What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative justice is a process in which the victims of crime are given the chance to meet or communicate with their offenders in order to explain the impact of the crime, empowering the victim by giving them a voice. Restorative justice also makes offenders personally accountable for what they have done, and helps them to take responsibility and make amends. Government research demonstrates that restorative justice provides an 85% victim satisfaction rate, and a 14% reduction in the frequency of reoffending.
Restorative justice is about victims and offenders communicating within a controlled environment to talk about the harm that has been caused and finding a way to repair that harm. For offenders, the experience can be incredibly challenging as it confronts them with the personal impact of their crime. For victims, meeting the person who has harmed them can be a huge step in moving forward and recovering from the crime.
SARI offers specialist restorative justice sessions. Using restorative justice sessions to reconcile parties that have been involved in a hate crime has different needs and requirements and needs to be delivered by people who have a personal understanding of the impact it has on its victims. We utilise our personal understanding to offer this in a bespoke fashion.
How does it work?
Restorative justice conferences, where a victim meets their offender, are led by SARI as a facilitator who supports and prepares the people taking part and makes sure that the process is safe. Sometimes, when a face to face meeting is not the best way forward, we will arrange for the victim and offender to communicate via letters, recorded interviews or video.
For any kind of communication to take place, the offender must have admitted to the crime, and both victim and offender must be willing to participate. Restorative justice can be used for any type of crime and at any stage of the criminal justice system, including alongside a prison sentence. The Restorative Justice Council advocates the use of safe, high quality restorative justice wherever and whenever it is needed.
Restorative justice is increasingly being used outside of the criminal justice system, where it is referred to as restorative practice. Restorative practice is effective in building strong relationships and can help prevent and manage conflict in schools, children's services, workplaces, hospitals, prisons and communities. For more information on restorative justice, please refer to the website of the Restorative Justice Council or visit the Avon and Somerset Restorative Partnership.