Restorative justice may be something new for many people, or they will hear about it for the first time after a crime has been perpetrated and the police gets in touch with them. Whatever the situation, here are a couple of questions that might come to mind if you are hearing about restorative justice for the first time.
Does it work?
The success of a process can be measured in many ways. When it comes to restorative justice, its success can be measured through things such as participants’ satisfaction with the experience of justice and whether it changed their lives in a positive way afterwards.
Studies conducted in the past decades have shown that people participating in restorative processes have a greater sense that justice was done. They felt that restorative justice gave them opportunities to tell their story, to have their questions answered, and to receive the support that they needed throughout this. People also felt an overall sense of satisfaction with the process and said they were able to move forward in a positive way afterwards. But all these depend on how well the process is organised and on participants’ willingness to contribute to the process in an honest and respectful manner. Restorative justice is a voluntary process.
Is it a safe process?
Restorative justice is a safe process because it is organised by trained facilitators that assess the risks involved before starting the conversation. Facilitators will not allow for a restorative conversation to take place if they do not feel confident that this is safe to go ahead. If participants agree to a face-to-face meeting, then they will never be left on their own in the room, meaning that a facilitator will always remain present.
What offences are eligible?
The view of the Restorative Justice Council
is that it can potentially be used for all types of crime. However, specific measures of safety will be taken in sensitive and complex cases (including sexual offences, hate crime and domestic violence), and restorative justice facilitators with relevant skills and experience will look at each case individually before deciding whether restorative justice is a suitable process.
What if I don’t want to meet the other person face to face?
Restorative justice is a flexible process, meaning that it can be organised in a way that fits the wishes and needs of those participating. If you do not want to meet the other person face to face, then the restorative conversation can take place through audio/video calls, it can be done through an independent intermediary (often referred to as ‘shuttle mediation’), through a representative or through letter writing. Whatever the choice, decisions about how the process looks like are reached collaboratively and take account of everyone’s wishes and needs. So these alternatives apply in case the other person doesn’t want to meet with you face to face either.
What if I want to take part, but the other person doesn’t?
Restorative justice is a voluntary process. If the other person does not want to take part, then the restorative justice facilitator will speak with you about other ways to address your needs and wishes in a restorative way.
Can I change my mind?
Yes. Restorative justice is a voluntary process, and you can change your mind at any time. You can opt in or opt out of it at any point throughout the process.
What if I still have questions?
If you still have questions about restorative justice and how suitable this would be to your situation, you can access the Directory
section on this website that lists some of the restorative justice providers that are available in the East Midlands region. Feel free to contact them directly for more information about restorative justice.