Restorative justice: some reflections on contemporary theory and practice
Over the past decade a new way of thinking about how we should view and respond to crime and delinquency has been gaining ground around the world and is beginning to exercise a significant influence on criminal justice policy and practice. Known as “restorative justice”, it revolves around the ideas that crime is primarily a conflict between individuals involving harm to people and human relationships; that the chief aim of the justice process should be to reconcile parties while addressing the harm caused by the offence; and that the resolution of the conflict demands a positive effort on the part of victims and offenders and assumption of responsibility by the community. This paper outlines the broad principles of restorative justice, examines the differences between restorative justice and other prevailing conceptions of justice, and identifies and comments on the constitutive elements necessary for restorative justice practice. The paper then considers contemporary restorative justice programmes, presenting information on origins, guiding principles, procedures and goals and identifying a number of issues and concerns that need to be addressed in the development and implementation of such programmes.