guiding questions

5 R's



·         “Restorative Justice” is 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.


·         “Restorative Practice” 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:

o   Put decisions into the hands of those most affected by the offense,

o   Make justice more healing, and ideally more transformative, and,

o   Reduce the likelihood of future offenses.


      Achieving these goals include:

o   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;

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

o   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);

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



  • ·         All human beings have dignity and worth.
  • ·         Offenses that create harm are injury.
  • ·         Offenses hurt individuals affected, communities, and those who cause harm, and creates an obligation to make things right.
  • ·         All involved parties should be a part of the response to the offense, including those who are most affected if he or she wishes, the community, and the person(s) who caused harm.
  • ·         The perspective of those who are most affected is central to deciding how to repair the harm caused by the offense.
  • ·         Focus on the harms of the offense rather than the rules or laws that have been broken.
  • ·         Show equal concern and commitment to those who are most affected and those who cause harm, involving both in the process of justice.
  • ·         Work toward the restoration of those who are most affected, empowering them, and responding to their needs as they see them.
  • ·         Accountability for those who caused harm means accepting responsibility and acting to repair the harm done.
  • ·         Support those who cause harm, while encouraging them to understand, accept and carry out their obligations to right the wrongs they have caused.
  • ·         Recognize that while obligations for repair may be difficult for those who cause harm, those obligations should not be used as harms (i.e. punishments), and their obligations must be achievable.
  • ·         Find meaningful ways to involve the community and respond to the community bases of offenses.
  • ·         Encourage collaboration and reintegration of both those who were most affected and those who cause harm, rather than coercion and isolation.
  • ·         The community is responsible for the well-being of all its members, including both those who were most affected and those who cause harm.
  • ·         Restoration – repairing the harm and rebuilding relationships in the community – is the primary goal of restorative justice.
  • ·         Results are measured by how much repair was done rather than by how much punishment was inflicted.
  • ·         The restorative justice process is respectful of age, abilities, sexual orientation, family status, and diverse cultures and backgrounds – whether racial, ethnic, geographic, religious, economic, gender identity or other – and all are given equal protection and due process.
  • ·         Show respect for all parties – those who were most affected, those who cause harm, justice officials and other stakeholders.
  • ·         Give attention to the unintended consequences of the restorative practices used.



·         Accountability. 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.

guiding questions


·         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?

5 R's of Restorative

Beverly B. Title, Ph.D.


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.


Respect is the key ingredient that holds the container for all restorative practices, and it is what

keeps the process safe. It is essential that all persons in a restorative process be treated with

respect. One way we acknowledge respect is that participation in a restorative process is always

optional. Every person is expected to show respect for others and for themselves. Restorative

processes require deep listening, done in a way that does not presume we know what the speaker

is going to say, but that we honor the importance of the other’s point of view. Our focus for

listening is to understand other people, so, even if we disagree with their thinking, we can be

respectful and try hard to comprehend how it seems to them.


For restorative practices to be effective, personal responsibility must be taken. Each person

needs to take responsibility for any harm that was caused to another, admitting any wrong that

was done, even if it was unintentional. Taking responsibility also includes a willingness to give

an explanation of the harmful behavior. All persons in the circle are asked to search deeply in

their hearts and minds to discover if there is any part of the matter at hand for which they have

some responsibility. Everyone needs to be willing to accept responsibility for his or her own

behavior and the impacts it has on other individuals and the community as a whole.


The restorative approach is to repair the harm that was done, and the underlying causes, to the

fullest extent possible, recognizing that harm may extend beyond anyone’s capacity for repair.

Once the persons involved have accepted responsibility for their behavior and they have heard in

the restorative process about how others were harmed by their action, they are expected to make

repair. This allows us to set aside thoughts of revenge and punishment. It is essential that all

stakeholders in the event be involved in identifying the harm and having a voice in how it will be

repaired. It is through taking responsibility for one’s own behavior and making repair that

persons may regain or strengthen their self-respect and the respect of others.


For the restorative process to be complete, persons who may have felt alienated must be accepted

into the community. Reintegration is realized when all persons have put the hurt behind them

and moved into a new role in the community. This new role recognizes their worth and the

importance of the new learning that has been accomplished. The person having shown him or

herself to be an honorable person through acceptance of responsibility and repair of harm has

transformed the hurtful act. At the reintegration point, all parties are back in right relationship

with each other and with the community. This reintegration process is the final step in achieving