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Causes of Crimes
Definition of Restorative Justice
Restorative justice is a problem solving process, which involves the victim, the offender, justice agencies, and the community. The fundamental principle of restorative justice is that criminal behavior violates the law and injures victims and the society. Thus, efforts to address a crime should involve the offender and the injured parties and provide help as well as support required by the victim and the offender. Restorative justice is aimed at healing the victim’s wounds, restoring offenders to a law-abiding life, and promoting a good relationship in the community (Marshall 2). The process takes the assumption that a crime is committed against a real individual and not the state.
Understanding a crime in restorative justice is of benefit to the offender, since the offenders assume responsibility for their behavior and its consequences. The offender has an opportunity to express their stand through a dialogue with the victim and fulfill their requirements to him or her and the community. There is an understanding and active acceptance of personal responsibility and consequences of a crime rather than one that is merely imposed by others. The process makes the offender experience an emotional transformation and improves his or her relationship with the victim and the society. This helps the offender in the future not to repeat the action or to revenge. Acknowledging the harm caused by an action makes the offender appreciate that the crime had negative results to the victim and his/her family.
Restorative justice is aimed at preventing a similar future action by striving to understand a crime in its social context. The cause of the problem is sought in order to be broken. This approach assumes that a crime originates from a social condition, which could have also caused harm to the offender. Thus, communities have responsibility for providing remedies to conditions resulting to a crime as a way of promoting healing to the victim and the offender.
The community victim-offender organizations work together with the community to provide offenders with education, relationship, and drug counseling sessions and, to some extent, offer housing accommodation (Kathleen 3). Employment is also provided to offenders who engage themselves with crime due to lack of jobs. This benefits the offender in that most crimes are committed owing to the lack of these social requirements. In addition, the society benefits by having minimized criminal offences.
In restoratve justice, victims take an active role in the dialogue, and he/she defines the obligation and responsibilities of the offender in the presence of a facilitator. Victims need to speak their feelings, experience justice, and regain the power that the offender took away during the crime occurrence (National Commission on Restorative Justice 2). Through restorative justice, the victim gets answers to questions they have concerning a crime. They get to know why the crime happened by having a direct access to the offender in whose hands the information lies.
The victim goes through healing after a crime experience as the victim’s story repeats. He is able to make the offender understand the harm and the impacts of the crime he committed.
The control that the victim had over his property, body, emotions, and dreams before the offensive act comes back at that time. The process of justice acts as an aid to return the sense of empowerment to the victim.
The offender owning up a mistake whether partly or wholly serves to assure the victim that the treatment he received was unfair. The offender owning up the mistake is a vindication that the victim is not to blame, and it is the offender’s responsibility to make everything right. An apology or material compensation serves as a way of restitution depending on the weight of the matter.
Community and Restorative Justice
The benefits of restorative justice extend from the victim and family to the whole community. The inclusion of community in restorative justice serves to assimilate offenders in the society and allow citizens to represent their values in society (Handbook on Restorative Justice Programmes 4). The community serves as a consultation, discussion, and recommendation forum on all matters that affect the policy of local administrative authority. The community also serves to monitor the levels and patterns of crime and antisocial behavior in an area and seeks to establish the underlying factors that contribute to these crime levels. As a consequence, community is able to improve the safety of the area by taking actions to prevent the occurrence of such antisocial behaviors. Examples of these antisocial behaviors dealt with by the community are disorderly actions from alcohol consumption, petty thefts, and assault. The community offers a remedy by offering mental treatments, drug abuse treatment and counseling, job training and housing services.
Advantages of Restorative Justice over Traditional, Adversarial Model of Justice
The restorative justice focuses on repairing the harm caused by the offender, and the commuunity members take a central role in the process. This takes place by giving the victim a chance to talk out his disappointment regarding the issue and air the extent of suffering he/she went through because of the offence. Consequently, the victim might heal quickly and is given an assurance that the offender has owned up the blame and is ready to pay for the damages. The offender understands the extent of damage caused by his/her actions and gets a chance of advice in order to avoid a future recurrence. In traditional justice, the victims and the community are on the peripheral in the process of solving the case. Traditional justice focuses on punishing the offender where he/she receives the treatment stated by the law concerning the crime he/she committed.
In restorative justice, the community members take an active role in ensuring that the offender’s social needs like unemployment or drug abuse among others are met to avoid a future reoccurrence. In traditional justice, the community is absent, but the state takes the community’s role in this process (Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General Victim Services & Crime Prevention 4).
In restorative justice, dialogues and negotiations characterize the process. The victim, offender and the community hold a dialogue concerning the matter. In this, the victim expresses his disappointments to the offender, while the offender also gets a chance to explain the reason behind committing the offence (National Commission on Restorative Justice 12). The community then takes over to ensure that the victim gets total healing, and the offender gets the punishment. This kind of dialogue is not practiced when dealing with the traditional justice process.
Traditional justice process covers a wide range of decision-making possibilities compared to the restorative justice process. The traditional justice process deals with fact-finding and penalties for the admitted guilt. On the other hand, the restorative justice process ignores the fact-finding part and concentrates on the penalty phase.
The state in traditional justice process assumes the role of the victim and the judicial authority decides on the penalty upon the hearing of arguments from the prosecution side and the defense side. In restorative justice process, the victim’s role is direct and communicates the impact of the offence directly to the wrongdoer (Kathleen 3). The sanctions are there after it was decided in an informal way in the presence of all the stakeholders.
The traditional justice process goes no further than punishing the law-breakers. On the other hand, restorative justice process seeks through the community to repair the harm or any injuries caused by an offence.
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