Chapter 4 Restorative Justice/Community Justice
Restorative justice offers a different framework for the administration of justice and the promotion of individual and community safety. The concept of restorative justice involves the offender, the victim, and the community in efforts to create a balanced approach that addresses all stakeholders' needs.
Upon completion of this chapter, students will understand the following concepts:
- The guiding principles, values, and concepts of restorative justice.
- The differences between traditional and restorative approaches to justice.
- The victim's role in restorative justice as it translates to practical programs and services.
- The balanced and restorative justice (BARJ) approach to juvenile justice.
- A comparison of the tenets and practical applications of restorative justice and community justice.
In a nationwide survey of states to determine their laws, policies, and programs within juvenile justice, based upon the principles of restorative justice and the balanced and restorative justice (BARJ) models, the BARJ Project at Florida Atlantic University found that:
- 19 states have adopted restorative justice statutes.
- 20 states articulate restorative justice in agency policies.
- 32 states articulate restorative justice in agency mission statements.
- 36 states incorporate restorative justice into program plans.
- 13 states have developed evaluation/outcome measures for restorative justice programs and activities.
- 33 states articulate restorative justice principles in multiple documents.
The nineteen states that have restorative juvenile justice statutes include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Montana,Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Washington (O'Brien, Bazemore, and Umbreit 1999).
Traditionally, America's systems of criminal and juvenile justice have focused on crimes committed against the state, on seeking justice through what many view as an "adversarial process," and on punishment of the offender. In the United States, victims' involvement in the criminal justice system has emanated from their roles primarily as witnesses rather than as active, welcome participants. While this involvement has changed with the advent of increasing victims' rights and programs, the justice system still tends to be more "offender directed" than "victim centered."
This traditional approach has been challenged by the new paradigm of a more balanced vision. Restorative justice, the guiding philosophical framework for this vision, promotes maximum involvement of the victim, the offender, and the community in the justice process, and presents a clear alternative to sanctions and intervention based on retributive or traditional treatment assumptions (Bazemore and Umbreit 1994, 1). Restorative justice is both a philosophy and an approach that seeks to balance the interests and needs of crime victims, offenders, and the community (Seymour 1997).
Unlike America's framework for criminal justice and juvenile justice, restorative justice is not a system or a network of agencies. Rather, restorative justice is based upon a shared set of values that determines how conflicts can be resolved and how damaged relationships can be repaired or improved. This value-based approach to justice can cause confusion in justice professions that have traditionally been based on structures and agencies. However, the ultimate goal of restorative justice is to infuse its shared values and practical applications into America's traditional approaches to criminal and juvenile justice.
The History of Restorative Justice
In Restorative Justice: An Overview (1998), Tony Marshall described the genesis of the idea of restorative justice:
The first use of the term is generally ascribed to Barnett (1977), referring to certain principles arising out of early experiments in America using mediation between victims and offenders. These principles have been developed further over time, as commentators have thought them through further, and as other innovative practices have been taken into account, but their basic justification is still grounded in practical experience. Innovation in criminal justice has mainly been in response to frustrations that many practitioners have felt with the limitations, as they perceived them, of traditional approaches. In the course of their normal work, these practitioners started to experiment with new ways of dealing with crime problems. Practice developed through experience of "what worked" in terms of impact on offenders, satisfaction of victims, and public acceptability. In particular, it was realized that the needs of victims, offenders, and the community generally were not independent, and that justice agencies had to engage actively with all three in order to make any impact. For instance, public demands for severe punishment, which those working to reform offenders found to be counter-productive, could only be relieved if attention was paid to victims' needs and healing thecommunity, so that offender rehabilitation could only occur in parallel with the satisfaction of other objectives. Similarly, the overloading of courts and other justice agencies was due to the increasing lack of capacity of local communities to manage their indigenous crime problems, so that escalating costs could only be prevented by agencies working in partnership with communities to reconstruct the latter's resources for crime prevention and social control.
Restorative justice is not therefore a single academic theory of crime or justice, but represents, in a more or less eclectic way, the accretion of actual experience working successfully with particular crime problems. Although contributing practice has been extremely varied (including victim support, mediation, conferencing, problem-oriented policing, and both community- and institution-based rehabilitation programs), all these innovations were based on recognition of the need for engagement between two or more of the various parties (victim, offender, community). Coming from very different directions, innovating practitioners found themselves horning in on the same underlying principles of action (personal participation, community involvement, problem-solving, and flexibility). As practice is refined, so is the concept of restorative justice.
In the course of this development, there has been much inspiration from examples of "community justice" still in use (or recently so) among other non-western cultures, particularly among the indigenous populations in such New World countries as North America (Native American sentencing circles) and New Zealand ("Maori justice"). These practices have particularly contributed to the development of "family (or community) group conferencing," and were effective in moving restorative justice ideas away from the excessive individualism of victim/offender mediation practices, providing a new community-oriented focus . . .
Guiding Principles and Values of Restorative Justice
The transition from an adversarial justice process to one that is more restorative requires significant change in both practice and principles. While there are many practical applications of restorative justice, it is important that such practices be based upon a shared set of principles and values. In a 1996 national teleconference on restorative justice sponsored by the National Institute of Corrections, participants offered seven basic principles of restorative justice upon which stakeholders can begin to evaluate existing efforts and create new approaches to justice practices:
- Crime is an offense against human relationships.
- Victims and the community are central to justice processes.
- The first priority of justice processes is to assist victims.
- The second priority is to restore the community, to the degree possible.
- The offender has personal responsibility to victims and to the community for crimes committed.
- The offender will develop improved competency and understanding as a result of the restorative justice experience.
- Stakeholders share responsibilities for restorative justice through partnerships for action (National Institute of Corrections 1997).
FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS OF RESTORATIVE JUSTICE
In 1997, the Mennonite Central Committee published Fundamental Concepts of Restorative Justice, which focuses on three key theories that form the foundation of both the philosophy and practices of restorative justice.
Crime is fundamentally a violation of people and interpersonal relationships.
- Victims and the community have been harmed and need restoration.
- The primary victims are those most directly affected by the offense but others, such as family members of victims and offenders, witnesses, and members of the affected community, are also victims.
- The relationships affected (and reflected) by crime must be addressed.
- Victims, offenders, and the affected communities are the key stakeholders in justice.
- A restorative justice process maximizes the input and participation of these parties-particularly victims as well as offenders-in the search for restoration, healing, responsibility, and prevention.
- The roles of these parties will vary according to the nature of the offense and the capacities and preferences of the parties.
- The state has circumscribed roles, such as investigating facts, facilitating processes, and ensuring safety, but the state is not a primary victim.
Violations create obligations and liabilities.
- Offenders' obligations are to make things right as much as possible.
- Since the primary obligation is to victims, a restorative justice process empowers victims to effectively participate in defining obligations.
- Offenders are provided opportunities and encouragement to understand the harm they have caused to victims and the community and to develop plans for taking appropriate responsibility.
- Voluntary participation by offenders is maximized; coercion and exclusion are minimized. However, offenders may be encouraged or required to accept their obligations if they do not do so voluntarily.
- Obligations that follow from the harm inflicted by crime should be related to making things right.
- Obligations may be experienced as difficult, even painful, but are not intended as pain, vengeance, or revenge.
- Obligations to victims, such as restitution, take priority over other sanctions and obligations to the state, such as fines.
- Offenders have an obligation to be active participants in addressing their own needs.
- The community's obligations are to victims and to offenders and for the general welfare of its members. The community-
- Has a responsibility to support and help victims of crime to meet their needs.
- Bears a responsibility for the welfare of its members and the social conditions and relationships which promote both crime and community peace.
- Has responsibilities to support efforts to integrate offenders into the community, to be actively involved in the definitions of offender obligations, and to ensure opportunities for offenders to make amends.
Restorative justice seeks to heal and put right the wrongs.
- The needs of victims for information, validation, restitution, testimony, safety, and support are the starting points of justice.
- The safety of victims is an immediate priority.
- The justice process provides a framework that promotes the work of recovery and healing that is ultimately the domain of the individual victim.
- Victims are empowered by maximizing their input and participating in determining needs and outcomes.
- Offenders are involved in repair of the harm insofar as possible.
- The process of justice maximizes opportunities for exchange of information, participation, dialogue, and mutual consent between victim and offender.
- Face-to-face encounters are appropriate in some instances while alternative forms of exchange are more appropriate in others.
- Victims have the principal role in defining and directing the terms and conditions of the exchange.
- Mutual agreement takes precedence over imposed outcomes.
- Opportunities are provided (but not expected) for remorse, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
- Offenders' needs and competencies are addressed.
- Recognizing that offenders themselves have often been harmed, healing and integration of offenders into the community are emphasized.
- Offenders are supported and treated respectfully in the justice process.
- Removal from the community and severe restriction of offenders are limited to the minimum necessary.
- Justice values change above compliant behavior.
- The justice process belongs to the community.
- Community members are actively involved in doing justice.
- The justice process draws from community resources and, in turn, contributes to the building and strengthening of community.
- The justice process attempts to promote changes in the community to prevent similar harms from happening to others.
- Justice is mindful of the outcomes, intended and unintended, and its responses to crime and victimization.
- Justice monitors and encourages follow-through, since healing, recovery, accountability, and change are maximized when agreements are kept.
- Fairness is assured, not by uniformity of outcomes but through provision of necessary support and opportunities to all parties and avoidance of discrimination based on ethnicity, class, and gender.
- Outcomes that are predominately deterrent or incapacitative should be implemented as a last resort and involve the least restrictive intervention while seeking restoration of the parties involved.
- Unintended consequences, such as the co-optation of restorative processes for coercive or punitive ends, undue offender orientation or the expansion of social control, are resisted (Zehr and Mika 1997).
New Roles in the Balanced Approach of Restorative Justice
The traditional and accepted roles of all parties in the criminal and juvenile justice systems are challenged by the framework of restorative justice. The following values and assumptions should be considered by victim service providers in developing roles and responsibilities that are relevant to restorative justice:
- All parties should be included in the response to crime-offenders, victims, and the community.
- Government and local communities should play complementary roles in that response.
- Accountability is based on offenders understanding the harm caused by their offenses, accepting responsibility for that harm, and repairing it (McLagan 1992).
The new roles in the balanced approach of restorative justice, as articulated by Dr. Gordon Bazemore, are included in the second column, and the implications of these roles on victims are summarized in the third column of the following chart:
Traditional and Restorative Justice Assumptions and Implications for Victims of Crime
Implications For Victims
The criminal justice system controls crime.
Crime control lies primarily in the community.
The community-including victims and their allies-participates in and directly benefits from deterrence.
Offender accountability defined as taking punishment.
Accountability defined as assuming responsibility and taking action to repair harm.
Offenders are held directly accountable to victims.
Crime is an individual act with individual responsibility.
Crime has both individual and social dimensions of responsibility.
Prevention, intervention, and breaking the cycle of violence are important considerations.
Crime is an act against the state, a violation of the law, an abstract idea.
Crime is an act against another person or the community.
The victim is individualized as central to the crime and the criminal justice system process, with the community duly noted as also affected by crimes.
Punishment is effective:
a. Threat of punishment deters crime.
b. Punishment changes behavior.
Punishment alone is not effective in changing behavior and is disruptive to community harmony and good relationships.
Punishment is augmented by direct accountability to the victim and to the community, with victims having a strong, consistent voice.
Victims are peripheral to the process.
Victims are central to the process of resolving a crime.
Restorative justice principles are "victim-centered."
The offender is defined by deficits.
The offender is defined by his or her capacity to make reparation.
Reparations to the victim and to the community are a priority.
Focus is on establishing blame, on guilt, on past (did he/she do it?).
Focus is on problem solving, on liabilities/obligations and on the future (what should be done?).
A central goal is to deter future criminal action through conflict resolution, problem solving, and fulfilling obligations to the victim and to the community.
Emphasis is on adversarial relationship.
Emphasis is on dialogue and negotiation.
Victims are active participants in determining appropriate reparations.
Imposition of pain to punish and deter/prevent.
Restitution as a means of restoring both parties; goal of conciliation/restoration.
Restitution holds the offender accountable and is meaningful to both him/her and the victim.
Community is on the sideline, represented abstractly by the state.
Community as facilitator in restorative process.
Just as the community is negatively affected by crime, it is positively affected by restorative justice process.
Response is focused on the offender's past behavior.
Response focused on harmful consequences of the offender's behavior; emphasis on the future.
Crime deterrence in the future focuses on victim and public safety.
Dependence on proxy professionals.
Direct involvement by participants.
Victims and their allies are directly involved in the criminal and juvenile justice and restorative justice processes.
* In original publication, called "retributive" justice.
Restorative Justice Asks These Questions
Kay Pranis, Restorative Justice Planner for the Minnesota Department of Corrections, offers nine questions (1997) that should be answered in developing restorative justice partnerships and practices:
- How can we increase opportunities for victim involvement in defining harm and potential repair?
- How can we increase offender awareness of injury to the victim?
- How can we encourage offender acknowledgment of wrongness of his/her behavior?
- How can we involve the offender in repairing the harm?
- How can we acknowledge victim harm and confirm that the victim is not responsible for what happened?
- How can the community send messages of disapproval while not banishing offenders?
- How can the community provide opportunities for the offender to repair the harm?
- How can the community be involved in the process of holding offenders accountable?
- How can the community be supportive of victims and help meet their needs?
Restorative Justice and Crime Victims
While restorative justice holds great promise for victims, many crime victims and service providers remain suspect of both the concept and the practical applications of restorative justice. Some of their fears and concerns are based on actual experiences, i.e., judges ordering victim/offender mediation without the victim's knowledge and/or consent, or victim/offender programs being developed without input from victims or those who serve them, with the expectation that they will be willing participants. Other fears and concerns are based upon victims' perceptions such as reading early publications about restorative justice that are offender-focused with little attention paid to victims' needs or concerns. If victims and service providers are truly to be stakeholders in restorative justice, their fears and concerns must be addressed in a meaningful way.
Restorative justice provides victims with a viable alternative to an adversarial justice process
that has traditionally ignored their interests and needs. While victims are increasingly being afforded considerable constitutional and statutory rights and improved services, they are seldom considered "partners in justice." Restorative justice offers victims the opportunity to join as equal partners with community representatives, professionals who assist offenders, justice practitioners, and victim service providers in planning, implementing, evaluating, and improving restorative justice programs and practices. When crime victims are excluded or diluted in restorative justice partnerships, the end result is likely to be continued growth in adversarial opposition to restorative justice.
Victims and those who serve them must contribute to and validate a community's shared values of restorative justice. This includes input into, as well as a shared understanding of, the following:
- How should conflicts be resolved in a community? What would the process look like?
- What types of services and support will victims receive?
- How can offenders be held accountable and offered supportive services that help reintegrate them back into a community as law-abiding, pro-social individuals?
- How can the community be involved in a meaningful way in justice processes, victim assistance, offender accountability and reintegration, and public/neighborhood safety?
While there are generally accepted shared values of restorative justice, a community's guiding principles must "fit" the interests, needs, and challenges inherent among a locale's restorative justice community.
Restorative justice practitioners must also clearly define how their initiatives are beneficial to victims. In the 1997/98 Restorative Justice Regional Symposia sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, ten "marketing messages" for victims and those who serve them were proposed:
- Crime victims' traditional roles solely as "witnesses" or "complainants" are expanded to incorporate victims as clients of the criminal and juvenile justice systems and welcome members of the community concerned about justice and safety.
- Victims are given an active voice in the system and in other matters related to their cases.
- Restorative justice approaches offer victims important choices related to their cases that can help return a sense of control to their lives in the aftermath of a crime or delinquent act.
- The five core victims' rights are: information, input, notification, restitution, and protection. All should be afforded through restorative justice principles, programs, and practices.
- Victim satisfaction is often directly related to the levels of participation and respect they are afforded by the criminal and juvenile justice systems-levels that are substantially increased through restorative justice approaches.
- Important partnerships are forged among crime victims, victim advocates, justice and allied professionals, and community representatives to prevent and respond appropriately and sensitively to crime and delinquency.
- Victim/offender programs offer crime victims the opportunity to seek answers to crucial questions they may have resulting from their victimization.
- Offender accountability to the victim provides opportunity for both remorse from the offender and constructive, positive recourse for the victim.
- Many victims believe their involvement in restorative justice programs and approaches will help offenders develop empathy and understanding for the harm and pain they have inflicted upon their victims, their own families, their communities, and themselves.
- Restorative justice approaches provide opportunities for communities to learn about and support sensitive responses to victims of crime (Seymour 1998).
THE LANGUAGE OF RESTORATIVE JUSTICE
One of the most significant barriers to victim involvement in, and acceptance of, restorative justice is the language that is sometimes used within a restorative context. Victims' concerns extend beyond mere semantics to the expectations some words imply-that victims will heal, or that forgiveness should be an end result of restorative justice.
The word "restorative," for instance, is appropriate and powerful when describing a context or approach to justice. When the term "restoring victims" is used, many crime victims and service providers express viable concerns. Rather, "restoring justice to victims" through comprehensive, meaningful services and implementation of victims' rights is a more appropriate reference.
The term "victim/offender reconciliation" implies that there was a conciliatory relationship in the first place. While this may be true in some cases--particularly those involving interfamilial offenses--it is not true for many others. As such, caution should be utilized with this word.
The crucial concepts of "healing" and "closure" are frequently cited in restorative justice literature, policies, and programs. It is important to remember and respect that healing is a journey, not a destination. For many victims, "closure" is not only an unrealistic word; it is an unrealistic expectation. Neither healing nor closure should be cited as expected outcomes of restorative justice.
Perhaps the most inflammatory concept within a restorative justice framework is that of "forgiveness." Again, forgiveness should never be expected. If forgiveness emerges through restorative justice processes, it is healthy and welcome. Yet forgiveness from the victim-especially for offenses that cause horrendous acute and chronic trauma (both physical and emotional)-can be extremely difficult. Forgiveness without any display of remorse, sorrow, or rehabilitation from the offender can be impossible. Deschutes County, Oregon Chief Community Justice Officer Dennis Maloney emphasizes the importance of "earned redemption," that is, offenders must make diligent efforts to earn the victims' understanding that can lead them to mercy for the suffering and losses they have endured.
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE AND VICTIM TRAUMA
An in-depth understanding of victim trauma is essential for restorative justice practitioners, including:
- How participation in justice processes--criminal, juvenile, and/or restorative--can exacerbate victim trauma.
- Victims' most salient needs (based upon a rich body of research)--information about the status of their case, being believed, and not being blamed.
- The various needs victims may have immediately after a crime has occurred, as well as in the short-and long-term, and how best to meet those needs.
- Supportive services available (both system- and community-based) for victims to help them reconstruct their lives in the aftermath of a crime.
An increased understanding of victim trauma emerges from comprehensive training and from speaking directly to--and soliciting feedback from--crime victims and those who serve them. It is also important to recognize that the majority of victims do not report crimes to law enforcement; therefore, it is imperative that restorative justice values and practices incorporate approaches that attend to the needs of nonreporting victims.
In addition, restorative justice must recognize and respect that each victim, and each case, is unique. While a substantial body of research offers a general understanding of what many victims might go through, it can be detrimental to "paint all victims with a broad brush." Previctimization factors, socioeconomic status, presence or absence of a support system, and treatment by the justice system all contribute to how a victim may--or may not--react to restorative justice initiatives. The unique aspects of victimization are critical, in that they can affect a victim's willingness or ability to participate in or appreciate restorative justice practices.
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE AND VICTIMS' RIGHTS
The effective implementation of victims' rights should form the foundation of restorative justice initiatives. There are strong rationales for integrating core victims' rights within a restorative justice context, most notably implementation of victims' rights is key to victim satisfaction and involvement with justice processes. The five victims' rights within a restorative justice framework include the following:
Victim notification. Notification to victims, upon request, about the status of their cases and offender should systematically take place from the time the offense occurs through any appellate processes. Restorative justice practitioners should be aware of the fifty-eight possible points of notification to victims (NCVC 1997), and promote interagency collaboration to "fill in the cracks" of notice and information. It is also important to note that "notification" should include the provision of information to victims about opportunities to participate in restorative justice-related programs and services, such as victim/offender mediation, victim impact panels, and completion of victim impact statements.
Victim impact statements. Victim impact statements can be truly restorative when they elicit the following information from victims:
- How did the crime affect you and your family?
- What was the emotional impact of the crime?
- What was the financial impact of the crime?
- What was the physical impact of the crime? (for personal offenses)
- What do you want to happen now? (This question provides an opportunity to offer parameters for what the system can and cannot do.)
- Would you like an opportunity to participate in victim/offender programming? (This question should only be utilized if the victim has been provided with a thorough overview of victim/offender options and what they entail.)
- Do you have a recommendation for community service if it is ordered as part of the sentence? (This question can include direct service to the victim [upon request]; service of the victim's choice; and/or having the victim select the community service from a list of options provided by the court or supervising agency.)
- Is there anything else you would like to tell the court/agency?
The combination of "specific" and "open-ended" questions will elicit valuable insights into the victim's opinions, recommendations, and desire to participate in victim/offender programming. In addition, the victim impact statement can include a question regarding whether or not the victim wishes to be notified of the offender's status (such as violation of probation or release from incarceration/detention). The victim impact statement should be forwarded to the proper authority.
Victim/witness protection. Victims and witnesses should always be asked if they have any safety concerns, recognizing that many victims will not disclose this important information unless they are given a clear opportunity to do so. Restorative justice practitioners should directly solicit input from victims as to their need and recommendations for protective measures, such as "no contact orders" from offenders who are under both community and institutional supervision. Special attention should be paid to screening victims for participation in victim/offender programming and ensuring that the program's environment maximizes victim security.
Restitution. Restorative restitution is the first priority of offenders' financial/legal obligations (with the exception of child support, in which case the "first priority" is shared). Offender accountability through restitution is emphasized. If restitution poses a financial hardship on an offender--or if he or she is unable or unwilling to pay restitution--a clear determination must be made whether or not the victim endures undue financial hardship as a result of the crime (which is usually the case).
Interdisciplinary systems must be established that order, monitor, collect, and disburse restitution payments to victims. Practitioners should provide help to victims in documenting losses (see "Restitution" chapter of this text) and guide them in seeking civil or other recourse for nonpayment. Offenders' satisfactory completion of terms of restitution can be reinforced with incentives such as supervised out-of-state or community travel. Victims should also be allowed to seek restorative community service from the offender in lieu of, or adjunct to, actual restitution orders.
Victim information and referrals. While all restorative justice practitioners are not required to be "experts" in victim advocacy, they should be knowledgeable about and able to make qualified referrals to victim services. Information about victims' rights and services available to help victims at the local, state, and national levels should be universally available. In addition, all restorative justice programs should have at least one designated staff member or volunteer to serve as the "primary point of contact" for victims who need information and/or referrals.
MEASURING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF RESTORATIVE JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS
As the victims' rights discipline increases its attention to program evaluation, and as more states and jurisdictions move toward performance-based evaluative measures, so must restorative justice consider effective approaches to measuring success and to identifying components that need improvement. In 1999, the Victims Committees of the American Probation and Parole Association and American Correctional Association are developing recommendations for evaluating restorative justice programs and initiatives (Seymour 1999). The following are measures included in the Committees' original draft:
- Does the agency's and/or programs's mission or value statement incorporate language that addresses victims as clients and victims' needs?
- Are there staff and/or volunteers designated to provide victims with assistance, information, and referral either in a full-time capacity or as a percentage of one's job requirements? Do job descriptions and/or duty statements clarify specific responsibilities to victims and to restorative justice initiatives?
- Does the agency or initiative utilize victims and service providers in an advisory capacity to guide the development of restorative justice policies, procedures and programs, and related victim services? What is the structure of the Victim Advisory Council or Community Advisory Council? Has its recommendations and efforts had a measurable impact on program implementation, the delivery of victim services, and victim/offender programming?
- Does the agency or program provide orientation, continuing education, and training to its staff and volunteers about crime victims' needs, victims' rights, victim trauma, and supportive services available to assist victims? If so, how often are training programs held? How many professionals and volunteers are trained? Are participants' retention and application of what they learned measured at follow-on intervals?
- What is the effect of restorative justice on victims' awareness of their rights and available services? What are the scope and specific activities/products utilized to inform and involve victims? Are these services and products available in multiple languages, TTY, and Braille and in measures commensurate with victims' ages and cognitive development? Are they available in jurisdictions large and small, urban and rural?
- Can an increase in the number of victims who are accessing their core rights be determined? Such increases include the number of crime victims who request (and receive):
- Notification of the case or offender status.
- Restitution and/or other financial/legal obligations.
- Protective orders or other measures to increase victim safety and security.
- The right to submit a victim impact statement, written, oral, through audio/video tape, and/or by teleconference to the hearing site.
- Information about and referrals to supportive services, offered either in the community or by the criminal or juvenile justice system.
- Does the agency or initiative measure victim satisfaction with its programs and services, either through victim satisfaction surveys, focus groups, or direct victim interviews? What are the cumulative results of victim satisfaction assessments?
- Can any reduction in victims' short- and/or long-term trauma be directly attributed to their participation in restorative justice processes and programs?
- How many restorative community service hours were requested, ordered, and/or completed, with victims:
- Requesting direct service from the offender?
- Having direct input into the community service placement from a list provided by the community corrections agency?
- Requesting that offenders provide community service to the victim assistance or community-based agency of the victim's choice?
- How many victims voluntarily participate in victim/offender programming, which includes the following:
- Community reparative boards.
- Family group conferencing.
- Healing or sentencing circles.
- "Impact of Crime on Victims" programs.
- Victim/offender mediation or dialogue.
- Victim impact panels.
- How many of these programs are sponsored? What were the outcomes of such programs? What was the level of victim satisfaction in participating in such programs?
- How many community volunteers are involved in restorative justice initiatives, particularly those that provide victims with assistance and support? How many community volunteer hours are performed?
In addition, the job performance measures of criminal and juvenile justice professionals must be changed to reflect the delivery of victim assistance and services. In the traditional justice system, great emphasis is placed on the numbers of cases processed, their outcomes in terms of sentences and findings, and services/programs provided to defendants, convicted offenders, and adjudicated youthful offenders. With a restorative justice approach, the evaluation measures for victim assistance and services described above should be incorporated into job descriptions and duty statements. Only when professional advancement is based upon victim assistance will the victim component of restorative justice be fully realized and implemented.
Changing Roles in Restorative Justice
The traditional roles of professionals and volunteers within the justice system and victim services change in a restorative justice context. Practitioners must be willing and able to cross the habitual and customary boundaries that tend to isolate justice agencies (law enforcement, prosecution, courts, and community/institutional corrections) from each other, with limited consideration given to victims' rights and services as well as to community participation. In a restorative justice framework, partnerships work to eliminate boundaries and forge meaningful relationships that benefit victims, offenders, the community, and justice processes as a whole. The elevation of crime victims, those who serve them, and the community to "partner status" as restorative justice stakeholders holds tremendous promise for altering traditional roles in positive ways.
These changing roles must be reflected through changes in laws, agency policies, and interagency policies that define and integrate restorative justice, either into existing justice practices or into community-based initiatives. Most justice-related efforts are guided by legal mandates and agency policies and protocols. Serious attention should be focused on initiating or enhancing all guidelines andmandates that determine how "justice" operates and its roles and responsibilities to crime victims and those who serve them.
Restorative Justice and the Community
Just as the role and involvement of victims change considerably within a restorative justice framework, so do those of the community. Restorative justice validates the fact that communities, as well as individuals, are hurt by crime. It reflects a core belief that there is no such thing as a "victimless crime"--that any offense, no matter how "minor," has a detrimental impact on at least one person, and often on an entire neighborhood or community. It provides opportunities for communities to define the harm they endure as a result of criminal activity and involves them in developing solutions that promote both individual and community safety.
In the 1997/98 Restorative Justice Regional Symposia sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, Kay Pranis offered four assumptions about the relationship of the community to crime:
- The community is an entity affected by criminal behavior.
- The community is a collective, responsible for the welfare of its members, including victims and offenders.
- The community is a stakeholder in broader policy issues.
- Community strength is the ultimate outcome measure for (restorative justice) interventions.
Pranis also identified four key community responsibilities in responding to crime as follows:
- Rally around the victim and attend to the wounds of the victim.
- Provide the opportunity for the offenders to make amends for the harms caused by their behavior.
- Establish norms and hold community members accountable to those norms.
- Address underlying issues revealed by crimes.
With restorative justice approaches, a number of processes emerge that build a sense of community relevant to public safety, victim assistance, and offender accountability and reintegration:
- Creation of new positive relationships or strengthening existing relationships.
- Increasing community skills in problem solving.
- Increasing the community sense of capacity and efficacy in addressing problems.
- Increasing individual awareness of and commitment to the common good.
- Creating informal support systems or safety nets for victims and offenders (Pranis 1997-98).
Restorative Justice and Juvenile Justice
Initially, the framework of restorative justice in the early 1990s focused primarily on juvenile justice. The balanced and restorative justice (BARJ) juvenile justice paradigm can best be described as a combined emphasis on three programming priorities:
- Accountability: Restitution, community service, and victim/offender mediation create an awareness in offenders of the harmful consequences of their actions for victims, require offenders to take action to make amends to victims and to the community and, whenever possible, involve victims directly in the justice process.
- Community protection: Intermediate, community-based surveillance and sanctioning systems channel the offender's time and energy into productive activities. A continuum of surveillance and sanctions provides a progression of consequences for noncompliance with supervision requirements and incentives that reinforce the offender's progress in meeting competency development and accountability objectives.
- Competency development: Work experience, active learning, and service provide opportunities for offenders to develop skills, interact positively with conventional adults, earn money, and demonstrate publicly that they are capable of productive, competent behavior (Bazemore and Umbreit 1994, 3).
New roles in the balanced approach promulgated by restorative justice are included in the following chart (Bazemore and Umbreit 1994, 4):
Accountability - When a crime occurs, a debt incurs. Justice requires that every effort be made by offenders to restore losses suffered by victims.
Juvenile justice system role: Direct juvenile justice resources to ensure that offenders repay victims and complete other relevant restorative requirements as a top system priority.
Intended Outcome: Efficient, fair, and meaningful restorative justice practices; increased responsiveness to victims' needs.
Offender role: Actively work to restore victims' losses and participate in activities that increase empathy with the victim and victims generally.
Intended Outcome: Understanding of consequences of offense behavior; increased empathy; feeling of fairness in justice process.
Community role: Assist in the process by providing paid work opportunities for offenders, help to develop community service work projects, and support victim awareness education.
Intended Outcome: More participation in and support for the juvenile justice system; message that victims receive priority.
Competency Development - Offenders should leave the juvenile justice system more capable of productive participation in conventional society than when they entered.
Juvenile justice system role: Access youths' strengths and interests and identify community resources to build on those strengths in a way that demonstrates competency. Engage youth in these activities and provide necessary supports for successful completion. Build prevention capacity through productivity partnerships with employers, educators, and other community agencies.
Intended Outcome: More opportunities for youth competency development; improved image of juvenile justice; increased competency.
Offender role: Become actively involved in activities that make a positive contribution to the community while building life skills; make continuous progress in improving educational skills while using existing skills to help others.
Intended Outcome: Increased sense of competency and self-esteem; exposure to and interaction with positive adult role models; improved public image of youth.
Community role: Become partner with juvenile justice system in developing opportunities for youth to make productive contributions to the community while learning positive civic and other values.
Intended Outcome: Increased community involvement in and ownership of delinquency problem; completion of positive work in communities; improved quality of life in community.
Community Protection - The public has a right to a safe and secure community; juvenile justice should develop a progressive response system to ensure offender control in the community and develop new ways to ensure public safety and respond to community concerns.
Juvenile justice system role: Ensure that offenders are carefully supervised by staff and a range of community guardians and that offenders' time is structured in productive activities; develop a range of supervision restrictiveness options and alternative responses to violations and incentives for progress.
Intended Outcome: Increased public support for community supervision.
Offender role: Become involved in competency building and restorative activities; avoid situations that may lead to further offenses.
Intended Outcome: No offenses while on supervision; reduced recidivism when the period of supervision is over.
Community role: Provide input to juvenile justice system regarding public safety concerns; share responsibility for offender control and reintegration.
Intended Outcome: Increased feelings of safety in community; increased confidence in juvenile community supervision.
Restorative Justice and Community Justice
In 1999, the Community Justice Committee of the American Probation and Parole Association offered the following comparison of restorative justice and community justice.
A process of responding to criminal acts in ways that promote healing, reparation, and conciliation of all parties harmed by those acts.
A process and method of confronting crime through proactive, problem-solving strategies aimed at prevention and reparation, with interventions that help to create and maintain safer communities and an improved quality of life.
Considers three distinct and equal stakeholders in the justice process-victims, the community, and offenders.
Regards the community, which includes individual victims and offenders, as the ultimate customer-as well as partner-of the justice system and process.
With its goals of reparation and healing focused on its three distinct stakeholders, runs on a parallel track with traditional justice practices. Other justice components, methods, and practices that are not restorative in nature are not considered to be part of the process. Punishment "for the sake of punishment" is negatively viewed.
Seeks harmonious working relationships among all justice components, methods, and practices within a transformed justice system. In a community justice system, the arrest, prosecution, conviction/adjudication, sentencing, and supervision of offenders would all be considered as equally legitimate means to an end. All components and methods would be tied to clearly articulated common values and ultimate goals of community well-being. Principled and fair punishment (sanctioning as punishment, not for punishment) would be considered a valid response to criminal actions and victimization. Victims would have priority over victimizers.
The ideal results of restorative justice are peaceful, harmonious, and just relationships among individual victims, offenders, and their communities, as well as stakeholder satisfaction with the justice process.
The ideal results of community justice are safe, vital, just, and peaceful communities where crime cannot flourish as well as customer satisfaction with the justice system and process.
In describing the context of community justice in relationship to crime victims, Deschutes County (Oregon) Chief Community Justice Office Dennis Maloney (1998) said:
. . . the system virtually ignored the crime victims. While most people, when confronting the scene of a crime, would attend to the victim first, then try to discern what damage has been done to the surrounding community, and finally proceed to call the police so that the offender could be apprehended, our criminal justice system appears to adhere to the reverse protocol. We appoint government-financed legal services for the offender, provide counseling and therapeutic interventions, and even upon incarceration provide extensive educational and vocational services. All the while, crime victims languish to deal with their trauma through their own means. Many in the public even perceive us to be offender advocates at the expense of victim and community needs.
Maloney goes on to describe the transformation that occurs within a community justice framework:
. . . the victim is regarded as the paramount customer of the justice system. Offenders are held accountable in constructive and meaningful ways, and crime prevention is viewed as a high priority. Citizen participation in attending to victims' needs, determining priorities, mediating restitution requirements, and supervising community service projects is central in a community justice approach. Justice system officials are careful to state that this shift can occur while remaining steadfast to due process requirements.
AMERICAN PROBATION AND PAROLE ASSOCIATION (APPA)
In 2000, APPA adopted a new position statement on community justice that includes a definition, a summary of the principles and core values, the relationship between community justice and restorative justice, and a recommended community justice strategy. This is a comprehensive model that can be used by agencies and communities that seek to promote the concepts of community and restorative justice (APPA 2000).
APPA working definition of community justice. Community justice is a strategic method of crime reduction and prevention, which builds or enhances partnerships within communities. Community justice policies confront crime and delinquency through proactive problem-solving practices aimed at prevention, control, reduction, and reparation of the harm crime has caused. The goal is to create and maintain vital, healthy, safe, and just communities and improve the quality of life for all citizens.
APPA position statement. APPA believes that, at times, traditional criminal and juvenile justice policies and practices have not been able to attain genuine peace and safety and may have alienated and ignored victims and citizens. Community justice principles of crime prevention plus victim and community reparation offer greater hope of securing genuine peace and justice and of gaining community satisfaction with its justice system.
APPA therefore resolves that the principles of community justice will guide the work of the organization in keeping with its proclaimed motto of "Community Justice and Safety for All." The vision of APPA is a community justice vision. This vision will guide the organization in promoting adult and juvenile probation and parole policies and practices that are grounded in community justice principles and values.
Principles of community justice. The community is the nexus of community justice; therefore, each individual community must ultimately define the concept and practice of community justice. The work must nonetheless remain true to an ideal as expressed by the following guiding principles.
- The community, including individual victims and offenders, is the ultimate customer as well as partner of the justice system.
- Partnerships for action, among justice components and citizens, strive for community safety and well being.
- The community is the preferred source of problem solving; citizens work to prevent victimization, provide conflict resolution, and maintain peace.
- Crime is confronted by addressing social disorder, criminal activities, and behavior and by holding offenders accountable for the harm they cause to victims and the community.
Core values. The justice system benefits the community by:
- Striving to repair the harm caused by crime to individual victims and communities.
- Working to prevent crime and its harmful effects.
- Doing justice by addressing problems rather than merely processing cases.
- Promoting community protection through proactive, problem-solving work practices plus interventions aimed at changing criminal behavior.
These efforts help to create and maintain vital, healthy, safe, and just communities where crime cannot flourish.
The relationship between community justice and restorative justice. Community justice and restorative justice often are used as synonymous terms. While the terms are complementary, they are not interchangeable. Community justice is a strategic method to control and reduce crime and therefore affects the system in which we work. Restorative justice is a process of responding to criminal acts and affects how we do our work. In other words, community justice seeks to transform the justice system to one that is inclusive and works in partnership with the community in order to affect the community environment. Restorative justice practices promote reparation for all parties harmed by criminal acts. The desired results are peaceful, harmonious, and just relationships among individual victims, offenders, and their communities. Positive human relationships contribute to a positive community environment. Restorative justice is therefore crucial to the success of a community justice strategy.
Community justice strategy. A comprehensive community justice strategy:
- Includes restorative justice practices and processes.
- Includes both adult and juvenile offenders.
- Focuses on creating safer communities rather than on doing things to or for offenders.
- Pursues the goal of pubic safety within a scope of preventing victimization.
- Places a high priority on the rights and needs of victims and the community.
- Seeks harmonious working relations among all justice components and practices, citizens, community and social service organizations, educational systems, and faith communities.
- Focuses on problems causing as well as caused by crime.
- Promotes correctional programming that is based on sound research and measurable for effectiveness (APPA 2000).
Restorative Justice Tools and Strategies
- Agency mission statements. Mission statements should be reviewed and revised to reflect the balance sought by restorative justice approaches among victims, offenders, and the community. They can be concise, such as the Washington Department of Corrections' mission statement, "Working Together for Safer Communities." Or they can provide a more detailed vision, such as that offered by the Berks County (Pennsylvania) Juvenile Probation Department:
We are committed to public safety, justice for victims, the reparation of the community and accountability and personal development of offenders, with respectful treatment for all involved.
Agency mission statements should be reviewed and revised with input from leadership and line staff, as well as from key stakeholders representing victims, offenders, and the community.
- Apology. Many justice agencies, from courts to corrections, encourage or require offenders to apologize to their victims either in person or in writing. It is essential that the victim agrees to accept an apology and that the apology be heartfelt (apologies that appear to be "form letters" can be more harmful than helpful to victims). If a victim does not want an apology, but a justice agency still believes an apology could be helpful to the offender, the offender can write the letter, which can then be included in his/her case file.
- Case planning. Case planning should incorporate measures to reflect the needs and interests of the community, the victim, and the offender.
- Circles. Circles are based upon a consensus approach to justice that requires a finding of guilt and actively involves the community in the process. Circles typically involve a multistep procedure that includes a healing circle for the victim; a healing circle for the offender; a sentencing circle to develop consensus on the elements of a sentencing plan; and follow-up circles involving the community to monitor the progress of the offender.
- Community/neighborhood impact statements. Community or neighborhood impact statements can be utilized in areas that are affected by chronic crime, which is often considered "victimless," i.e., drug sales, prostitution, graffiti, gangs, etc. Impact statements can be solicited by the court, utilizing teams of police/probation officers who go door-to-door on their regular beats; and/or by sponsoring neighborhood meetings where people who live in a designated area are invited to express their opinions about specific crimes or crime in general that affect them. Essentially, neighborhood impact statements ask:
- Has this crime(s) had an effect on you and your family? If so, how?
- Is your quality of life affected by this crime(s)? If so, how?
Neighborhood impact statements can also invite the community to "partner" with justice professionals in developing solutions to specific and chronic crimes. They are an excellent tool tovalidate people in high-crime areas as "hurt by crime," and send a message that the justice system cares about their concerns and wants to work with them on creative solutions.
- Community justice council. Representatives of victims, offenders, the community, and the juvenile and criminal justice system can collaborate in an ongoing manner through community justice councils (CJCs). CJCs can identify problems caused by crime and address them; develop and implement plans for restorative justice approaches; and serve as a liaison between the justice system and stakeholders in restorative justice.
- Community reparation boards. Consisting of community members (usually appointed by the Department of Corrections), community reparation boards provide a sentencing option for nonviolent offenders to make reparation to victims and the community. Reparative activities include restitution, community work service, mediation/dialogue, cognitive skills development sessions, victim empathy programs, and decision-making programs.
- Crime repair crews. Under the supervision of justice officials and/or community members, lower-level offenders participate in crews that clean up crime scenes, repair locks and windows, and provide a sense of security to people who have been victimized (primarily by property crimes, but crime repair crews have also been utilized to clean up violent crime scenes as well). Funding to support such crews can be derived from small assessments on offenders, community support, and in-kind contributions (such as windows, caulking, and locks) from business people in the community.
- Family group conferencing. Family group conferencing brings together the people most affected by a crime-the victim and offender, and their family and friends-with a trained facilitator to discuss how they and others have been harmed by the offense, and how that harm can be repaired. The offender must admit to the offense, and participation by all involved is voluntary. All participants may contribute to the problem-solving process of determining how the offender might best repair the harm. The end result is an agreement that includes a summary of all participants' expectations and commitments, including the offender's obligations.
- Hotline for help for victims and the community. Justice agencies can designate a telephone number (staffed by personnel or volunteers) that provides information, assistance, and referrals to crime victims and community members. This helps reduce victims' frustration with getting the "perceived runaround" when they seek information or assistance.
- Merchant Accountability Boards. Initiated in Deschutes County (Bend) Oregon, Merchant Accountability Boards involve panels of local shop keepers and merchants who have experienced low-level offenses such as shoplifting and graffiti. Youthful offenders appear before the Board to hear how chronic offenses against merchants detrimentally affect their business and the community in the form of higher prices and increased security expenditures. Often, youthful offenders perform their community service in the stores owned by members of the Merchant Accountability Boards, which provides both meaningful work experience and mentoring from positive adult figures.
- Offender artwork to benefit victims of crime. Many commemorations sponsored by crime victims and those who serve them rely on creative artwork and graphic designs to publicize crime prevention and victim assistance messages. In a number of jurisdictions, offenders under correctional supervision (in the community or incarcerated) are encouraged to submit artwork anddesigns that fit the commemorative theme(s), i.e., the 1998 National Crime Victims' Rights Week theme was "Victims' Rights: Right for America." The offenders are credited for their restorative contributions, which are utilized for posters, brochures, bookmarks, and even billboards.
- Personal delivery of restitution check. In some cases and with the victim's consent, the final restitution check can be presented in person by the offender (or by the supervising community corrections official) to the victim. This is a thoughtful, symbolic gesture that brings closure to an important obligation.
- Restorative community service. Community service that is viable and visible can be very restorative for victims, offenders, and the community. In addition, restorative community service can directly benefit the victim (only upon the victim's request and with his/her consent); or directly benefit victim service or community service organizations (such as constructing a domestic violence shelter, providing volunteers for victim-related fundraising events, or cutting red ribbons for the annual public awareness campaign sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving).
- Update letter to victims. If an offender is delinquent in paying restitution, an update letter can be sent to the victim explaining the reason for the delay and committing to an equitable, revised timetable.
- Victim Advisory Council. Victim Advisory Councils consist of crime victims and victim advocates who meet on a regular basis (quarterly, for example) to provide guidance to justice agencies. Victim Advisory Councils can help develop victim-related policies and procedures; review all written documents pertinent to victims for sensitivity and efficacy; develop and implement strategic plans for victim services; and serve as the agency's liaison to crime victims and victim advocates.
- Victim awareness education programs/panels. Victim awareness classes and panels provide an educational opportunity for offenders to learn about how their delinquent and criminal activities detrimentally affect their victims, their communities, their own families, and themselves. Such programs range from two-hour panels, to twelve one-hour sessions designed for community corrections, to a structured forty-hour education program for offenders sentenced to incarceration or detention.
- Victim impact statement. A core tenet of victims' rights, victim impact statements can be truly restorative when they elicit the following information from victims:
- How did the crime affect you and your family?
- What was the emotional impact of the crime?
- What was the financial impact of the crime?
- What do you want to happen now? (This question provides an opportunity to offer parameters for what the system can and cannot do.)
- Would you like an opportunity to participate in victim/offender programming? (This question should only be utilized if the victim has been provided with a thorough overview of victim/offender options, and what they entail.)
- Do you have a recommendation for community service if it is ordered as part of the sentence? (This question can include direct service to the victim [upon request]; service of the victim'schoice; and/or having the victim select the community service from a list of options provided by the court or supervising agency.)
- Is there anything else you would like to tell the court?
The combination of "specific" and "open-ended" questions will elicit valuable insights into the victim's opinions and recommendations. In addition, the victim impact statement should include a question regarding whether or not the victim wishes to be notified of the offender's status (such as violation of probation or release from incarceration/detention), which can then be forwarded to the proper authority.
- Victim/offender mediation. Victim/offender mediation (also called "victim-offender dialogue" or "offender accountability meetings") provides an opportunity for the victim and offender to meet in a structured setting with a trained facilitator. Participation is voluntary for all involved. Mediation provides the victim with an opportunity to discuss how the crime affected him/her and to define the harm. Offenders are held directly accountable and can discuss measures in which he/she can repair the harm.
- Victim service representatives. Many justice agencies designate one staff member at each work site to serve as its victim service representative (VSR). The VSR usually requires five-to-twenty percent of a full time employee's time. The VSR offers centralized information, assistance, and referral capabilities to victims. In addition, when the designated staff person is not available to assist the victim, the VSR can provide assistance, and/or ensure that the victim's request is responded to quickly by the proper personnel.
- The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) bases its agency's mission and programs on cornerstones of community justice. Its new mission statement articulates a vision that balances the interests and needs of victims, offenders, and community:
The Ohio DRC protects and supports Ohioans by ensuring that adult felony offenders are effectively supervised in environments that are safe, humane and appropriately secure. In partnership with communities, we will provide citizen safety and victim reparation. Through rehabilitative and restorative programming, we seek to instill in offenders an improved sense of responsibility and the capacity to become law-abiding members of society.
The DRC publishes a quarterly newsletter, the "Community Justice Beacon," that contains editorials, articles, and numerous resources relevant to community and restorative justice. It sponsors annual awards for "Excellence in Community Justice" that are presented by the Director. In addition, the DRC sponsors five Community Justice Councils that collaborate to promote the Department's mission and vision. They include Prison Council, Parole and Probation Council, Staff Council, Victims Council, and Local Programs Council.
- The Travis County, Texas Community Justice Accountability Sentencing Initiative (CJAS) is a partnership between the District Attorney's Office and the Crime Prevention Institute. It is a community-based restorative justice model designed to:
Types of accountability sentencing include sentencing circles, conferences, and reparative panels. Circles are practiced for some kinds of nonviolent property crimes that have an impact on the community, such as drug dealing and criminal mischief. The most important element of accountability sentencing is that the victim wishes to take part in the process. If victims, prosecutors, or law enforcement involved make the referral, their opinion is heavily weighted and valued.
- Use crime as an opportunity to strengthen the community by involving the public in the criminal justice process. CJAS develops and implements a structured system through which victims and the community collaborate with system representatives on appropriate sentencing options.
- Promote citizen reclamation of the criminal justice system through involvement in victim healing, accountability sentencing, and other restorative justice measures.
- Empower community members and system representatives to address criminal justice and community issues through the ongoing provision of appropriate education, training, advocacy, and system support.
Referrals may be made to the Victim-Witness Division of the District Attorney's office by anyone involved in the case. The cases are then passed on to the Screening Panel, which consists of community members, probation officers, prosecutors, law enforcement, and victim advocates. The Screening Panel determines if:
- Information from the case file suggests the offense is appropriate for circle sentencing.
- The victim desires the process.
- The offender desires and would be affected positively by the process.
Cases that are accepted are assigned to a case manager and facilitator to organize accountability sentencing. Cases not accepted by the screening panel return to the assigned prosecutor and court docket. For additional information, contact Ellen Halbert, Director, Victim-Witness Division, Travis County District Attorney's Office (512-473-9079).
- Restorative justice "signposts" specific to crime victims have been developed by Howard Zehr of the Mennonite Central Committee in Virginia and Mary Achilles, Victim Advocate for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (1999). The ten "signposts" include the following:
We are working toward appropriate victim involvement (in restorative justice) when:
- Victims and victim advocates are represented on the governing bodies and initial planning committees.
- Efforts to involve victims originate from a desire to assist in their recovery/reconstruction.
- Benefits to the offender are not the primary motive of the program for victim involvement.
- Victims should be free from the burden of rehabilitation or assisting offenders (unless they choose to do so).
- The safety of the victim is a fundamental element of program design.
- Victims are presented with clear understandings of their roles, including potential benefits and risks to themselves and offenders.
- Confidentiality is provided within clear guidelines.
- Victims are provided as much information as possible about the case, the offense, and the offender.
- Victims are able to identify and present their needs, and are provided options and choices.
- Victim opportunities for involvement are maximized.
- Program design provides for referrals for additional support and assistance.
- To the extent possible, program services are made available to victims even when their offender has not been arrested.
- Youth Violence Alternatives Project, Victims First. The Lincoln Action Program in Nebraska sponsors a Youth Violence Alternatives Project that includes an innovative program called Victims First. The goal of Victims First is "to help victims of property damage crime, while giving youth a firsthand look at the impact of crime on family, friends, neighbors, and the community." At-risk youth and nonviolent offenders are supervised by adult mentors-both staff and volunteers-in cleaning up and enhancing security for victims of property crimes. Following the victim-specific community service, the youth have the opportunity to hear from the victim about the physical, emotional, and financial effects of the crime. Victims First also sponsors fundraisers that benefit crime victims organizations (Lincoln Action Program 2000).
Restorative Justice/Community Justice Self-Examination
1. What are the seven guiding principles and values of restorative justice?
2. Identify two differences between traditional and restorative approaches to justice.
3. Select one of the five core victims' rights and describe its implementation within a restorative justice framework.
4. Identify one role of the community in a restorative justice framework.
5. Describe two "promising practices" in restorative justice.