Restorative Justice

February 5, 2016 • Volume 26, Issue 6
Can it help victims and rehabilitate criminals?
By Christina L. Lyons


Tiago Robinson, in charge of the Manhood (Getty Images/The Christian Science Monitor/Ann Hermes)
Tiago Robinson, in charge of the Manhood Development Program at Oakland High School in California, passes a Hacky Sack to students to signify they can ask or answer questions during a program aimed at teaching African-American boys how to become responsible men. The program uses restorative justice principles that emphasize accountability and peaceful conflict resolution. (Getty Images/The Christian Science Monitor/Ann Hermes)

As calls for criminal justice reform grow louder, some social workers, religious leaders and legal experts want to expand the use of an alternative, nonpunitive system of justice for cases ranging from student conflicts to assaults involving adults. They say that “restorative justice,” through “peace circles,” mediation and other methods, promotes conciliation and remediation by bringing offenders, victims and community members together to determine how best to help victims and rehabilitate offenders. Advocates say restorative justice can potentially reduce repeat offenses, incarceration rates and court costs. But critics, including some prosecutors, deride it as a soft-on-crime approach that won't work for violent crimes such as assault. They also disagree with proponents' claims that restorative justice programs can heal victims or keep career criminals from returning to prison. All sides agree more research is needed to determine whether restorative justice can one day help transform the nation's criminal justice system.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
May 27, 2022  Crime in America
Feb. 10, 2017  Forensic Science Controversies
Feb. 05, 2016  Restorative Justice
Jan. 30, 2015  Central American Gangs
Aug. 29, 2014  Transnational Crime
Aug. 09, 2013  Sexual Assault in the Military
Oct. 26, 2012  Mexico's Future
Apr. 20, 2012  Criminal Records and Employment
Apr. 19, 2011  Honor Killings
Sep. 2010  Crime in Latin America
Jul. 16, 2010  Gangs in the U.S.
Jul. 17, 2009  Examining Forensics
Apr. 17, 2009  Wrongful Convictions Updated
Feb. 08, 2008  Fighting Crime
Oct. 11, 2002  Corporate Crime
Apr. 04, 1997  Declining Crime Rates
Dec. 10, 1982  Arson: America's Most Costly Crime
May 07, 1982  Helping Victims of Crime
Mar. 13, 1981  Violent Crime's Return to Prominence
Jul. 15, 1977  Crime Reduction: Reality or Illusion
Jan. 19, 1972  Crime of Rape
Jan. 22, 1969  Street Crime in America
Jan. 17, 1968  Burglary Prevention
Sep. 22, 1965  Compensation for Victims of Crime
Feb. 17, 1965  Criminal Justice and Crime Control
Oct. 18, 1961  Control of City Crime
Jun. 20, 1929  Crime and the Courts
Crime and Law Enforcement
Criminal Law Procedure and Due Process
Domestic Issues
Juvenile Justice
Sentencing and Corrections
Students and Social Life