Restorative justice could be defined as an inventive approach towards the criminal justice structure that emphasizes fixing the harm instigated by offenses committed. Its proponents purport that retributive justice, which has been the society’s traditional answer to delinquency, neither satisfies the plea of transgression victims nor mitigate re-offending. It presumes a disjoint, adversarial approach and perceives delinquency as a violation of State law. Consequently, it ascertains blame and executes punishment in a challenge between the State and the offender. As a substitute, they suggest that restorative justice applies humanistic and non-punitive approaches to correct wrongs while restoring social cohesion between a victim and the offender (Kiess, 2016).
Restorative Justice Program
In contemporary times, one of the most commonly utilized restorative justice programs is victim-offender mediation. The program is effective due to its numerous benefits that outweigh its drawbacks. Hallevy (2013), describes Victim-offender mediation (VOM) as an approach that offers interested victims a chance to meet and have a discourse with their offenders in a secure and structured setting. The primary objective is to hold transgressors directly responsible while providing essential support to victims.
The face-to-face dialogue happens in the presence of trained facilitators or mediators, who helps the victims to inform the offenders how the offense impacted them, and receive responses to their disturbing questions. According to Hallevy (2013), the two parties then engage themselves in formulating a restitution plan that holds the transgressors financially accountable for the losses they instigated. The offenders must fulfill the requirements mandated by the plan. Failure to complete the restitution agreements leads to additional court-imposed penalties.
The VOM program stands to be one of the most distinctive and individualized programs that are utilized in the contemporary realm, and its effectiveness is significant (Kiess, 2016). Indeed, the program has proved to produce better outcomes compared to court-assigned approaches. According to Bouffard, Cooper, & Bergseth (2017), some of the factors that could be linked to the program’s effectiveness include its capacity to assess perspectives of satisfaction, emotion, fairness, closure, as well as the provision of opportunities for either party to tell their side of the incident, and purpose. The process leads to a win-win situation, where both parties attain some degree of gratification out of the restorative justice process, whether after a fulfilling explanation, apology, or otherwise consolation.
From my point of view, the benefits that accompany VOM do outweigh the costs to the community. That is because all the involved parties get a chance to make peace, get answers, and elaborate ways to get over the offense. Specifically, the programs instill in the victim a sagacity of control that departed from them since the crime incident. Besides, they appreciate the opportunity to meet and address their offender directly and portray the extent to which the crime affected them (Hallevy, 2011).
The offenders also get an opportunity to meet the victim and express their part of the story. Additionally, they get an opportunity to retract their transgressions by completing the restitution agreement and apologize to the victims (Reske, 1995). Ideally, the costs could be associated with the offender’s failure to remorse for the offense, feel sympathy, or apologize to the victim (Stefanovska, 2013). Fortunately, that hardly happens.
In conclusion, restorative justice applies humanistic and non-punitive approaches to correct wrongs while restoring social cohesion between a victim and the offender. One of the most commonly utilized restorative justice programs is Victim-Offender Mediation. VOM can assess perspectives of satisfaction, emotion, fairness, closure. The benefits that accompany VOM do outweigh the costs to the community. Indeed, Victim-Offender Mediation allows the offenders to defend themselves and feel that fairness has been practiced while attending to the victim’s plea.
Bouffard, J., Cooper, M., & Bergseth, K. (2017). The effectiveness of various restorative justice interventions on recidivism outcomes among juvenile offenders. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 15(4), 465-480.
Hallevy, G. (2011). Therapeutic Victim-Offender Mediation within the Criminal Justice Process — Sharpening the Evaluation of Personal Potential for Rehabilitation while Righting Wrongs under the ADR Philosophy. Harvard Negotiation Law Review. Retrieved from https://eds-a-ebscohost-com.lopes.idm.oclc.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=15&sid=80e4efda-c2f2-4662-8e79-d3619cfe1809%40sdc-v-sessmgr03
Kiess, J. (2016). Restorative justice and the International Criminal Court. Journal of Moral Theology. Retrieved from https://eds-a-ebscohost-com.lopes.idm.oclc.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=2&sid=90d73280-7cd5-4d17-9f77-23aecd477c00%40sessionmgr4008
Reske, H. J. (1995). Victim-offender mediation catching on. ABA Journal. Retrieved from https://eds-a-ebscohost-com.lopes.idm.oclc.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=24&sid=80e4efda-c2f2-4662-8e79-d3619cfe1809%40sdc-v-sessmgr03
Stefanovska, V. (2013). New Challenges and Perspectives of Restorative Justice. . Balkan Social Science Review,, 247-61.