The Stone Stoup Project


RJ practices in communities:
  • Peacemaking Circles
  • Restorative Group Conferences
  • Restorative Peer Juries
  • Victim Impact Panels

Restorative Justice in Communities

Howard Zehr, known widely as the “grandfather of restorative justice,” has said, “If crime is a wound in society, then justice should be about healing.” A punitive justice system that ignores the specific needs of victims does not create safer communities, but instead not only alienates those they punish, but also their communities and all those affected by the crime. The punitive justice system asks three questions:

  • What law was broken?
  • Who did it?
  • How are we going to punish them?

Restorative justice (RJ), on the other hand, is a cooperative process of responding to crime that involves all the primary stakeholders in determining how best to repair the harm done by the offense. This process builds authentic relationships based on understanding and common interests, which in turn creates cohesive and safe communities. A restorative justice process asks three questions:

  • Who was harmed?
  • How will the harm be repaired?
  • Who is responsible for repairing the harm?

Because crime harms people and relationships, justice requires the healing of the harm as much as possible.

The primary stakeholders in a given offense are 1) the person who caused the harm (typically referred to as “the offender”), 2) the person who was harmed (referred to as “the victim”) and 3) the community affected by the offense.

The best outcome from restorative justice practices happens when all stakeholders are actively involved and have a voice in the process.

In the community, restorative justice practices can be diversions from typical justice system responses (i.e. court, probation, etc.), providing an opportunity for the stakeholders to focus on the harm caused and the needs and obligations of those involved. Typical outcomes of an RJ practice may include letters of apology, community service, victim impact classes, and restitution which lead to higher victim satisfaction and lower recidivism rates.