Essay on “Restorative Justice” for CSS, PMS and Judiciary Examination

This is an essay on “Restorative Justice” for CSS, PMS, and Judiciary exams. Restorative Justice is a form of criminal justice that emphasizes reparation to the victim or the affected members of the community by the offender, as by cash payment or community service. So, here is a complete Essay on “Restorative Justice” for preparing for Civil and Additional Judge examinations also for CSS, PMS, and All other Judiciary exams.

Essay on “Restorative Justice”

Restorative Justice is a philosophical framework and a series of programs for the criminal justice system that emphasize the need to repair the harm done to crime victims through a process of negotiation, mediation, victim empowerment, and reparation.

The criminal justice system historically has employed two models for dealing with crime and criminals. The retribution model emphasizes deterrence and punishment through the adversarial criminal justice process, and the rehabilitation model emphasizes the need for society to assist criminals in changing their attitudes and behavior.

Restorative justice emphasizes an equal concern for crime victims and offenders while de-emphasizing the importance of coercion. It also seeks to focus on the harm done to a person and relationships rather than on the violation of the law.

Beyond its philosophical framework, the restorative justice model includes a number of programs for addressing the needs of crime victims, the community, and offenders.

A prime component of restorative justice is restitution to crime victims. For example, if an offender vandalizes- a car, she must pay for the repairs. Restitution has also become part of the retribution model of justice as well, with courts making restitution to the victim along with sentencing the offender to jail or imposing a fine. In restorative justice, restitution is part of a larger goal to restore the crime victim’s loss and to impress upon the offender the destructive aspects of crime.

Restorative justice is commonly known as a theory of criminal justice that focuses on crime as an act against another individual or community rather than the state. The victim plays a major role in the process and may receive some type of restitution from the offender.

Today, however, Restorative justice is a broad term that encompasses a growing social movement to institutionalize peaceful approaches to harm, problem-solving, and violations of legal and human rights. These range from international peacemaking tribunals such as the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission to innovations within the criminal justice system, schools, social services, and communities.

Rather than privileging the law, professionals, and the state, restorative resolutions engage those who are harmed, wrongdoers, and their affected communities in search of solutions that promote repair, reconciliation, and the rebuilding of relationships. Restorative justice seeks to build partnerships to reestablish mutual responsibility for constructive responses to wrongdoing within our communities. Restorative approaches seek a balanced approach to the needs of the victim, wrongdoer, and community through processes that preserve the safety and dignity of all.

Restorative justice takes many different forms. but all systems have some aspects in common. In criminal cases, victims have an opportunity to express the full impact of the crime upon their lives, to receive answers to any lingering questions about the incident, and to participate in holding the offender accountable for his or her actions. Offenders can tell their story of why the crime occurred and how it has affected their lives. They are given an opportunity to make things right with the victim-to the degree possible-through some form of compensation.

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In social justice cases, impoverished people such as foster children are given the opportunity to describe what they hope for their futures and make concrete plans for transitioning out of state custody in a group process with their supporters in criminal cases, types of compensation include, but are not limited to: money, community service in general, community service specific to the deed, self-education to prevent recidivism and/or expression of remorse.

In social justice cases, restorative justice is used for problem-solving. Restorative justice sometimes happens in the context of a courtroom, and sometimes within a community or nonprofit organization.

In the courtroom, the process might look like this: For petty or first-time offenses, a case may be referred to restorative justice as a pretrial diversion, with charges being dismissed after fulfillment of the restitution agreement. In more serious cases, restorative justice may be part of a sentence that includes prison time or other punishments.

In the community, concerned individuals meet with all affected parties to determine what the experience and impact of the crime were for all. Those called out for offenses listen to others’ experiences first, preferably until they are able to reflect and feel what those experiences were for the others. Then they speak to their experience: how it was for them to do what they did.

A plan is made for the prevention of future occurrences, and for the offender to healing the damage to the injured parties. All agree. Community members hold offenders accountable for adherence to the plan.

Most academics and government definitions of restorative justice restrict that definition to those programs that involve an encounter between the offender and the victim. Some grassroots organizations, like the Mennonite Central Committee Canada, define restorative justice programs less on who the clientele of the program is, and more on the values of the program.

This means that programs that only serve victims (or offenders for that matter), but have a restorative framework, are considered a restorative justice program. Howard Zehr was
Restorative justice pioneer.

History of Restorative Justice

Restorative approaches to crime date back thousands of years:

  • In North America, the first traces of restorative justice have been attributed to the First Nations communities.
  • In Israel, the Pentateuch specified restitution for property crimes.
  • In summer, the Code of Ur-Nammu (c. 2060 B.C.) required restitution for offenses of violence.
  • In Babylon, the Code of Hammurabi (c. 1700 B.C.) prescribed restitution as a sanction for property offenses.
  • In Rome, the Twelve Tables (449 B.C.) ordered convicted thieves to pay double the value of stolen goods.
  • In Germany, tribal laws promulgated by King Clovis, I (496 A.D.) called for restitution sanctions for both violent and nonviolent offenses.
  • In England, the Laws of Ethelbert of Kent (c. 600 A.D.) included detailed restitution schedules.

Retributive justice began to replace this system following the Norman invasion of Britain. William the Conqueror’s son, Henry I, issued laws detailing offenses against the “king’s peace.” By the end of the 11th century, crime was no longer perceived as injurious to persons but rather was seen as an offense against the state.

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In the 20th century, restorative justice started becoming more popular. Communities in Canada, the United States. Great Britain and Australia began instituting restorative justice programs.

Restorative Justice Processes

Victim-offender mediation, or VOM (also called victim-offender dialogue, victim-offender conferencing, victim-offender reconciliation, or restorative justice dialogue), is usually a face-to-face meeting, in the presence of a trained mediator, between the victim of a crime and the person who committed that crime.

This system generally involves a small number of participants and often is the only option available to incarcerated offenders. due to limits on visitors.

One strong proponent of the use of mediation in restorative justice is Marshall Rosenberg the creator of nonviolent communication (NVC) and the founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication. His approach is to have the victim and offender meet, in the presence of a trained NVC mediator. The victim gets to explain how they feel and felt, and what needs were not met as the result of the action of the offender. The offender is to repeat what he or she hears (i.e. feelings and needs) and continue to listen and repeat what the victim says she or he feels and needs.

Usually, this requires substantial support from the trained NVC mediator to gain clarity about the feelings and needs and to request the offender to say these words back to the victim. Once the victim feels completely heard he or she is then ready to listen to what the offender feels and needs now and felt and needed at the time of the crime, and the victim, if he or she has been heard adequately will be ready to hear and reflect these feelings and needs back to the offender. Usually, the session ends with a request from the victim to the offender, and from the offender back to the victim.

A community restorative board typically is composed of a small group of citizens, prepared for this function by intensive training, who conduct public, face-to-face meetings with offenders sentenced by the court to participate in the process. During a meeting, board members discuss with the offender the nature of the offense and its negative consequences.

Then board members develop a set of proposed .sanctions which they discuss with the offender until they reach an agreement on the specific actions the offender will take within a given time period to make reparation for the crime. Subsequently, the offender must document his or her progress in fulfilling the terms of the agreement. After the stipulated period of time has passed, the board submits a report to the court on the offender’s compliance with the agreed-upon sanctions. At this point, the board’s involvement with the offender is ended.

Restorative Circles

Pakistan has designed a reentry process using restorative justice principles for prison inmates and their loved ones to address reconciliation and developing a transition plan. The group works together to address how the inmate might meet his or her needs establishing timelines and what she or he needs to do to carry out the plan.

Sentencing Circles

Sentencing circles (sometimes called peacemaking circles) use traditional circle rituals and structures to involve the victim, victim supporters, the offender, offender supporters, judge and court personnel, prosecutor, defense counsel, police, and all interested community members. Within the circle, people can speak from the heart in a shared search for understanding of the event, and together identify the steps necessary to assist in healing all affected parties and prevent future crimes.

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Sentencing circles typically involve a multi-step procedure that includes:

  1. Application by the offender to participate in the circle process;
  2. A healing circle for the victim;
  3. A healing circle for the offender;
  4. A sentencing circle to develop consensus on the elements of a sentencing plan.
  5. Follow-up circles to monitor the progress of the offender

Limitations on Restitution

Some judicial systems only support monetary restitution agreements. For instance, if the victim and offender agreed that the offender would pay $100.00 and mow the victim’s lawn 5 times during the months of June and July, the court would only note the $100.00 as restitution. To avoid difficulty in collecting the full restitution, some agreements specify a larger monetary amount (e.g. $200.00) to, be paid if no monetary restitution is not provided.

Many jurisdictions place a cap on the restitution a juvenile offender can be required to pay. Labor regulations typically limit the personal service tasks that can be performed by minors. In addition, personal work service usually must be supported by the juvenile’s parents.

According to the Victim Offender Mediation Association, victims are not allowed to make a profit from restitution; only their actual out-of-pocket losses can be recovered. Young offenders are often willing to agree to anything to have the session end. If the restitution is unreasonable, however, the court may throw the agreement out.

If the facilitator is not adequately trained in avoiding these pitfalls, a failed restitution agreement may result.

Confidentiality

Some restorative justice systems, especially victim-offender mediation and family group conferencing, require participants to sign a confidentiality agreement. These agreements usually state that anything discussed in the conference will not be disclosed to non-participants. The rationale for confidentiality is that it promotes open and honest communication during the process.

Cases Unsuitable for Restorative Justice

Cases in which the offender denies responsibility for the crime or has no remorse are unsuitable for restorative justice and are usually referred back to court. Also, offenders who are unable to take responsibility, such as those with significant Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or a serious mental illness, are not suitable for an encounter with their victim.

If the victim is unwilling to participate, the effectiveness of restorative justice is diminished, because the process depends on holding the offender directly accountable to the victim.

Offenses without a readily identifiable victim, such as truancy or marijuana possession, are less suitable for restorative justice than other crimes.

Recent decades have seen a surge in the birth of “super territorial institutions and associations”, that have been gathered by their enactment of common law and practices. The European union’s regional expansion into Southeastern Europe to include Romania is one such example. The community of European states has enacted treaties that have allowed them to unite politically and economically.

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