The Benefits of Restorative Justice for Victims, Offenders & the CommunityThursday 19th November 2020
You might be wondering how Restorative Justice works and what benefits it has. It actually has loads of brilliant benefits that improve the lives of victims of crime, offenders, and their wider communities.
Restorative Justice is available free of charge throughout the UK. If you’ve been a victim of crime, or you’ve committed a crime, you could be able to access Restorative Justice through Restorative Solutions in Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Dorset, Kent, Merseyside, or Hampshire.
What is Restorative Justice?
A Restorative Justice definition is: "an approach to justice where one of the responses to a crime is to organise a meeting between the victim and the offender, sometimes with representatives of the wider community".
We think that's a great definition, but we would further describe Restorative Justice as a process where people who have been harmed and people who have caused that harm communicate with each other, whether that’s in face-to-face facilitated meetings, writing letters, or through another method of communication.
This process allows the harmed to express how the incident has affected them and get some form of resolution. It can help the harmer see the error of their ways and give them a chance to make up for their actions.
There are benefits to 3 groups of people when Restorative Justice takes place:
- The victim
- The offender
- The community
Today, we'll be looking at the benefits that Restorative Justice can give to victims of crime, the offender, and the wider community.
How Restorative Justice Helps Victims of Crime
It helps victims regain a sense of power
Victims of crime often feel as though they’ve lost control over their lives. With RJ, they can get that power back. Seeing the offender in the flesh - they often won’t have seen the before offender at all - can dispel the idea that this person is a monster, as the idea of something can often seem a lot worse than the thing itself.
Communicating with the offender gives the victim a voice again. Not only do they get to express how they feel to the person who caused them harm, but they also often have control over the wider RJ environment, such as where they sit, where the offender sits, who enters and exits the room first, and so on.
It can reduce the victims’ symptoms & experience of post-traumatic stress
Victims of crime will often suffer from symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. There can be lots of reasons for this but, in many cases, it can be because they’re scared that they will be a victim of crime again and that the offender is still wanting to cause them harm.
It helps victims put the past behind them
Having some kind of resolution to an incident can really help both victims and offenders put the past behind them and move on in a healthy, positive way.
In many cases, the victim and offender live in the same community, so if they can go back to their communities knowing that the issue is settled as much as it can be, it can help both parties feel more comfortable in their homes and local areas.
How Restorative Justice Helps Offenders
It reduces reoffending rates
Restorative Justice is known to reduce reoffending rates by 14%. A large part of this is likely to be because the offenders may not have ever had to face the consequences of their actions before.
Seeing their victim as a real person with real feelings, as well as hearing about the repercussions of their actions in the victim’s life, can really hit home and change the way the offender thinks about their actions.
It gives offenders an opportunity to make amends
If appropriate, restorative justice can give offenders an opportunity to try to correct some of their wrongs. For example, if the offense was robbery, the offender may be able to help the victim get their possessions back.
For many victims having their questions answered, such as ‘why did you choose me?’, ‘had you been following me?’, or ‘will you commit this crime again?’, can restore their peace of mind, so it can have a huge impact on their recovery if the offender can answer them.
It allows offender to put their crime behind them
Just like it does for victims of crime, Restorative Justice gives offenders an opportunity to leave the past in the past. If an offender is given a safe space to apologise and repair any harm they've caused (if they can), then the chances that they'll be able to move on from the incident in a healthy way is increased.
How Restorative Justice Helps Communities
Because Restorative Justice is known to reduce reoffending rates so significantly, it's a cost-effective solution that reduces the amount of money the community has to pay for incarcerating offenders.
Safety in the community increases
Reduced reoffending rates mean safer communities. If an area is safer, the wider community is often happier and has a better chance of thriving.
It strengthens the community
With relationships being repaired and many offenders making an active decision to repair harm (such as by volunteering), Restorative Justice has been proven to strengthen communities.
Find out more about Restorative Solutions
Do you want to take part in Restorative Justice in the UK? Get in touch with us.
Restorative Solutions is a not-for-profit CIC that supports Restorative Justice practitioners.