|Victim Issues and Restorative Justice|
A basic premise of the paradigm known as “restorative justice” is that a just society calls for each individual to be treated with dignity and respect. It includes protecting the due process rights of the accused and insisting upon the dignified treatment of people who admit to or are found responsible for harm, as well as those who have suffered harm. This section contains some specific recommendations which fit within the restorative framework. It does not propose to create or enhance any existing state or federal statutory or constitutional rights of victims or the accused.
It is critical to understand that restorative justice is not “a program.” It is a “smart on crime” philosophy which acknowledges the reality that the punitive paradigm has resulted in a downward spiral of recidivism and further victimization. Restorative justice focuses on repairing the harm caused or revealed by criminal behavior, rather than on the imposition of punishment.
Restorative values include the recognition that the sum of each human being is much more than one experience. People who experience harm are not only, nor forever, “victims” – they are capable of healing and reconciliation. . People who cause harm are not only “offenders” – they are capable of acknowledging and repairing the harm they caused and transforming themselves as well. Some people suffer victimization and trauma which may lead them to harming themselves, their loved ones and others. Some who have offended later become victims in prison.
The set of principles and values that are the foundation of the restorative justice paradigm can be summed up in the following “markers.” We are working toward restorative justice when both policies and practices:
· Focus on the harm of wrongdoing more that the rules that have been broken.
· Show concern and commitment to victims and offenders, involving both in the process of justice.
· Work toward restoration of victims, empowering them to identify their own needs, and take responsibility as a community to help meet those needs.
· Support offenders while encouraging them to understand, accept and carry out their obligations.
· Recognize that while obligations may be difficult for offenders, they should not be intended as harms and they must be achievable.
· Provide opportunities for dialogue, direct or indirect, between victims and offenders as appropriate.
· Involve and empower the affected community and increase its capacity to recognize, acknowledge and respond to community bases of crime.
· Encourage collaboration and reintegration rather than coercion and isolation.
· Give attention to the unintended consequences of our actions and programs.
· Show respect to all parties including victims, offenders and justice colleagues. (Adapted from the work of Howard Zehr and Harry Mika, 1997)
|Last Updated on Thursday, 04 December 2008 16:44|