What techniques are used in restorative justice?
Restorative justice is respect. Restorative justice aims at giving the victims justice in a respectful manner. Marshall (2020) stated that the term restorative justice refers to the practice of acquiring justice by focusing on the emotional repair of the victim rather than focusing on the punishment of the offender. According to Murhula et al. (2021), “Restorative justice is a holistic philosophy that has become increasingly popular in reformist criminal justice debates and criminological research” (p.1). According to Marshall (2020), restorative justice started in the early 1970s and has since grown to bring change as it embraces diversity in peace-making practices. Christianity is believed to be the key influence in promoting restorative justice. Marshall (2020) stated that “Despite this proclivity to marginalize the creative capacity of religious commitment to generate societal change, there are good reasons not to discount the contribution of religious faith to the genesis of the modern restorative justice movement” (p.3). Thus, restorative justice was seen as a more effective tool in dealing with crime, and the Christian activists were intentional in promoting peace through the restorative justice system.
A modern approach to restorative justice is practiced in today’s society. According to Marshall (2020), “the beginnings of the modern restorative justice movements are usually traced back to the initiatives that emerged in North America in the early 1970s; This was because the principal innovation to appear at this time was the practice of using a facilitated victim-offender dialogue to explore the harm perpetrated by the offending and to determine what should be done to demonstrate accountability and promote reconciliation and repair” (p.1). The originators of restorative justice reflected on the dynamics of principles in dealing with crime. Marshall (2020) also stated that a large number of restorative justice programs have emerged in Canada and the United States of America over the past thirty-five years, and major professional bodies of justice like the American Bar Association. There are several techniques. Some of the techniques used in restorative justice involve the victim-offender mediation and community group conferencing.
One of the techniques used in restorative justice include victim-offender mediation. According to Murhula et al. (2021), a victim-offender mediation is whereby a victim and their offender meet voluntarily to discuss the reasons of the conflict between them and come to an agreement on fair solution. Murhula et al. (2021) also stated that the first step in victim-offender mediation is investigating the place and condition in which the crime occurred; This is usually done by the police. Second, once the context of the crime has been decided, the facilitators continue with the mediation preparation; This is done by the facilitators meeting with the parties involved at different times and palace to ensure they both consent to the mediation (Murhula et al., 2021). The process ends with a conclusion statement understood by the parties involved, and a judge is invited to validate the agreement by overseeing and signing the agreement form (Murhula et al., 2021). Thus, one of the techniques used in restorative justice include the victim-offender mediation which involves a victim and their offender meeting voluntarily to discuss the reasons of the conflict between them and come to an agreement on fair solution.
Community group conferencing is another technique used in restorative justice. A community group conference refers to a voluntary and participatory meeting conducted by a trained facilitator who is expected to act neutral to allow the people involved to resolve their crime in a safe and controlled environment. According to Murhula et al. (2021), “the conference models pursue the same objectives as victim-offender mediation, but it is a form of extended mediation because it brings together, around the victim and the offender, all persons or institutions having an interest in the regulation of conflict: their families, friends, referents of one or other of the parties as well as representatives of judicial, police, health or social institutions” (p.6). The number of participants involved in the community group conferencing varies from 110 to 30 people. The conference considers the characteristics of support that the family members or the social environment that is interested in the case. Murhula et al. (2021) stated that the first step of conducting a community group conference is a preparation which the mediator carries out; This conducts an examination to understand the facts of the case and then meets with the involved parties separately in order to observe them to obtain information to deal with the case. The second step is holding the conference itself and during this stage, the victims express themselves first and the offenders express themselves second. By conducting a community group conferencing, the parties involved are given a chance to present their opinion on how justice for the victim can be derived. A consensus is then reached and the mediator verifies the legality of the agreement. Thus, community group conferencing is another technique used in restorative justice and it involves holding a meeting and involving the society in order to agree on the best way to find justice for the victim.
In conclusion, one of the ways to change the justice system to become better and effectively serve the people is through restorative justice. Some of the techniques used in restorative justice involve the victim-offender mediation and community group conferencing. Restorative justice considers the crime committed as harm to both the victim and the society. Restorative justice recognizes that crime disrupts the interactions of individuals in the society as it harms the victim involved. Restorative justice repairs the harm caused by the offender to the victim. The department of justice gives the offender an opportunity to change their criminal behavior. The law discourages the offender from repeating the offense by giving them a punishment. Restorative justice should be promoted as it gives the victim the justice they deserve and the offender an opportunity to change their criminal ways.
Marshall, C. D. (2020). Restorative justice. Religion Matters: The Contemporary Relevance of Religion, 101-117.
Tolla, A. D., & Murhula, P. B. B. (2021). The effectiveness of restorative justice practices on victims of crime: Evidence from South Africa. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 10(1), 98-110.