Why Use Restorative Justice?

The Community Justice Network of Vermont (http://cjnvt.org/) describes the benefits of restorative justice:

With restorative justice processes, success is measured not by how much punishment is given, but by how much harm has been repaired or prevented. Restorative justice offers a multitude of benefits, from the empowerment of individuals to cost savings for communities.

Benefits to the Community:

Reduced recidivism: Restorative justice has a high rate of success in reducing repeat offenses. When communities reintegrate their citizens after harm has been repaired, the likelihood of recidivism is greatly reduced. People who have offended have the opportunity to make things right, learn from the process, and put the matter behind them, so they can more easily go on to lead a crime-free life.

Increased safety: With reduced recidivism comes a safer community. Restorative justice empowers individuals to make their neighborhoods and towns safer and more pleasant places to live.

Cost effectiveness: A restorative approach to crime saves the state money by preventing individuals from becoming part of the criminal justice system for offenses that can be resolved at the local level with community and victim participation.

A stronger community: In addition to enhancing the safety and well being of a town or region, community justice centers help to establish a more active citizenship. Volunteering has been shown to build stronger and more cohesive communities and increase the social networks within towns and neighborhoods.

Benefits to Victims:

Empowerment: When victims are offered the opportunity to have a safe and facilitated dialogue with the person who harmed them, they feel empowered and invested in the process. Victims’ needs are acknowledged and considered, which gives them a voice in an often impersonal system.

Meaningful dialogue: Victims are given the opportunity to explain how they were harmed, get answers to their questions, and state what they need the offender to do to make amends.

Recovery and satisfaction: Restorative justice boasts a high rate of victim satisfaction. Many are able to recover what was taken from them, whether it be material possessions or their sense of security and peace of mind. They are more likely to be able to move on from the incident and get back to their daily lives.

Benefits to People Who Offend:

An opportunity to make it right: People who offend have the opportunity to express remorse and apologize for their actions, benefiting themselves as well as their victims.

A way to put the incident behind them: People who offend have the opportunity to make significant and appropriate amends and then move on. They are able to return to their communities knowing that the matter is settled.

A timely resolution: The process of restorative justice is swift in comparison to the criminal justice system, so that offenders can more quickly make meaningful changes in their lives.

A high success rate: Restorative justice has a high rate of compliance or completion. Within a voluntary and non-coercive process, people who have offended tend to follow through on agreements that they have a part in creating.

(This page is from the Community Justice Network of Vermont, http://cjnvt.org)