Restorative Justice explores and addresses the root causes of an offense in a safe setting, where the responsible party can engage those impacted and where s/he can help determine how s/he should be held accountable. It also empowers those harmed by an offense and gives them a voice in identifying the needs created and how the harm should be repaired. Every case is specifically tailored to meet the needs of those involved.
The restorative justice model differs from the usual court approach in four key ways:
- Participation must be entirely voluntary – for all participants.
- The process focuses on the harm created by the effects, rather than seeking to prove the occurrence of the offense.
- The responsible party must acknowledge his/her part in the harmful act and recognize that this creates an obligation to the affected parties and larger community.
- The responsible party engages in the reparative process with the impacted party, their family, school and community rather than being punished in isolation by the state.
The result is a Reparation Agreement which outlines the requirements to hold the young offender accountable for his or her actions and a deadline for completion.