Restorative justice is the process by which victims and offenders communicate in a way that aims to ‘restore’ justice either as an alternative to, or alongside, other punishments. It may give the offender a chance to explain why they committed the crime, and the victim a chance to explain the impact the crime has had on them. In practice, it often involves an apology from the offender, either written or face-to-face but can require more than this, for example mediation sessions between the two parties. RJ can be utilised at any stage of the criminal justice system but can only happen with the agreement of both the victim and the offender.
How does it work?
The process takes the form of a meeting between victim, offender and mediator and sometimes relevant others - with the victim telling his/her story so that the offender can address the real consequences of crime - and to repair as much as possible the harm done by it.
By encouraging the offender to confront the reality of their actions head on, it can help in the process of rehabilitation which moves us closer to our ultimate goal of creating safer communities. It should be seen as complementing rather than replacing existing sanctions/interventions. Restorative Justice should only be used when it is appropriate to the needs of both the offender and the victim. Restorative Conferences may take place as part of a programme of supervision.
New Cross European Venture: June 2019
In collaboration with nine other European countries, Ireland is participating in a new cross European venture entitled Restorative Justice: Strategies for Change. The purpose of the project is twofold
- to contribute towards refocusing European criminal justice systems, agencies, policies and practices around restorative principles and processes: and
- to determine how the Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec (2018) concerning restorative justice in criminal matters could be used to support this work.
If a case goes to court then sentencing is always up to the Judge. Restorative Justice is not an alternative to sentencing. The Judge is the only person who can decide on the appropriate sentence for the crime that the offender has committed.
However, for those who commit crimes Restorative Justice has the potential to help rehabilitate offenders and support them in addressing their offending behaviour. It has the potential to motivate them to change and become responsible law-abiding, productive members of society.
If you would like to get further information, or request a referral form for a client, you can contact Wexford Restorative Justice Service using the contact form on our Contact page.
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