About Restorative Justice

Definition of Restorative Justice
According to Zehr (2002), “Restorative Justice is a process to involve to the greatest extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.” 

Restorative Justice Philosophical Foundation 
Restorative Justice is a philosophy and body of practices utilized to address the harm associated with wrongdoing. The model seeks to address the needs and concerns of:

  • the victim
  • the obligations of the offender and the community’s engagement
  • the responsibility to the victim and offender (Zehr, 2002)

Retributive Justice Philosophical Foundation 
Retributive Justice is a belief that pain through the use of punishment is the currency needed to vindicate and reciprocate the harm associated with wrongdoing.  Crime is a violation of the state.  As a result, the state must decide who is to blame and then impose a punishment (Zehr, 2002).

Retributive Justice vs. Restorative Justice
Retributive Justice and Restorative Justice have different approaches to addressing harm and ask different questions.

Retributive Justice Restorative Justice
What law or rule was broken? Who has been hurt?
Who broke it? What are their needs?
What punishment do they deserve? Who has the obligation to address the needs? To put right the harms and to restore relationships?
How can those involved be re-integrated into the community?

A New Story of Justice: Nonviolence and Restorative Justice