Thank you for your interest in this chapter and the ideas surrounding restorative justice when dealing with conflict. Restorative justice is the complex process of healing that involves the victim and offender, which must be adapted to accommodate each individual case. Restorative justice is one of the few methods of healing that keeps the focus on the victim, while simultaneously helping the offender reconnect with society. Though this method is not always preferred, many who utilize restorative justice successfully see it as a more effective alternative, to prison for instance, and one of the few options towards regaining the life one had prior to the crime. Thus, in a sense, restorative justice is a modern method of criminal justice. With that being said, there is still quite a lot of information to cover to completely understand the reasoning behind the process.
As you will read, there are some people who believe that there are several negative aspects to restorative justice that deter them from even considering the process. Nevertheless, there are many people around the world who promote restorative practices, such as Mr. Eric Butler, a teacher in Oakland, CA, who seeks to help students face traumatic experiences without turning to violence. He helps students form circles, where they may speak freely to one another about Oakland’s intensifying violence.
As restorative justice is a complex topic, I have split this chapter into five sections that together cover the process as a whole: Overview, Positive and Negative Aspects, Restorative Justice in North America, Restorative Justice around the World, and the Future of Restorative Justice. I chose to highlight North America in one of the sections simply because of the location of the WorldLink program and its Youth Town Meeting, in the hope that it would resonate more with the attendees. Additionally, I have added a section that looks to the future. Here, you may read optimistic accounts of where restorative justice may lead, as well as what must be done in order for it to reach that point.
Thank you for taking the time to read about restorative justice. Healing takes many forms, and it must focus on the victim but also address the offender in order to obtain maximum results. I sincerely hope that after reading this chapter you will use restorative practices in your life to help stop violence before it begins.
Alexis Parkhurst, La Jolla Country Day School
WorldLink 2014 Summer Intern