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Guides for Restorative Justice

Restorative practices recognize that when a wrong occurs, individuals and communities feel violated. It is the damage to these relationships that is primarily important and is the central focus of what restorative practices seek to address. When relationships are strong, people experience more fulfilling lives, and communities become places where we want to live. Relationships may be mended through the willingness to be accountable for one’s actions and to make repair of harms done.




All human beings have dignity and worth

a process that seeks primarily to address or repair the harm

caused by an incident or offense, and involves (to the extent possible), those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations.


this term encompasses not only restorative justice, but also a range of other processes, including mediation, conflict resolution, problem-solving, circle-time, emotional literacy, active listening, and so on. To avoid confusion, this definition will only use the term ‘restorative justice’ when referring to processes that seek primarily to address or repair harm.



Restorative Justice and Restorative Practices aim to:

  • Put decisions into the hands of those most affected by the offense

  • Make justice more healing, and ideally more transformative

  • Reduce the likelihood of future offenses


Achieving these goals include:

  • Those most affected (when there are identifiable affected parties who want to participate) are involved in the process and mostly come out of it satisfied with a sense of healing;

  • Person(s) who caused harm understand how their actions have affected others and take responsibility for those actions;

  • Outcomes help to repair the harms done and address the reasons for the offense (specific plans are tailored to the specific needs of both those who are most affected and those who caused harm);

  • Those most affected and those who caused harm both gain a sense of “closure” and both are reintegrated into the community.


  • When an individual(s) commits an offense, the person(s) who caused harm incurs an obligation to individuals affected and the community.

  • Youth Competency Development. Those who cause harm and enter the juvenile justice system should be more capable when they leave than when they entered.

  • Community safety. Juvenile justice has a responsibility to protect the public from juveniles in the system.


  • Who has been hurt?

  • What are their needs?

  • Whose obligations are these?

  • Who has a stake in this situation?

  • What is the appropriate process to involve stakeholders in an effort to put things right?

  • What is needed to repair the harms and address the underlying needs of the those who are most affected?

  • What is needed to address the needs of the person(s) who caused harm to prevent future harm?

  • What is the role of the larger community in repairing harms and addressing needs which promote safer communities?

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