What is Restorative Justice?

What is Restorative Justice?

RJ is a philosophy and approach that views crime and conflict as harm done to people and relationships. The RJ process strives to provide support and safe opportunities for the voluntary participation and communication among those affected to encourage accountability, reparation and understanding and to promote feelings of satisfaction, healing, a sense of safety and closure.

RJ Approach:

  • Is non-adversarial
  • is non-retributive
  • emphasizes healing for the affected person
  • encourages meaningful accountability of person responsible,
  • involves citizens in creating healthier and safer communities
  • is based on values and principles that emphasize inclusion, accountability, facilitated dialogue, truth, voluntary participation, safety, choice and reparation.

Benefits of the RJ Process

The person(s) affected can:

  • tell their story in an environment that encourages the person responsible to hear and understand the impact
  • express their feelings and share the effects of the harm
  • find answers to questions
  • obtain closure and understanding around the incident by hearing the statement of the responsible person
  • identify what can be done to repair or mitigate the harm

The person(s) responsible can:

  • acknowledge and accept responsibility for the harm caused
  • tell their story
  • understand the impact of their actions on the affected party
  • participate in determining how to repair or mitigate the harm
  • repair the relationship with individuals and the community

The Community can:

  • be empowered to gain a better understanding of the root causes of crime
  • engage in a process where they can express their fears
  • contribute to an understanding of the wider impacts of crime
  • help the person responsible understand the full impact of their actions
  • participate in determining how to repair or mitigate the harm

The Restorative Justice Community Conference

The majority of our work involves preparing and conducting community conferences involving youth and adults in our community. Rather than going to court, participants agree to meet in a facilitated conference to discuss the impact of the crime or conflict and then develop an agreement to repair the harm. We assist the community in a wide range of issues including domestic disputes, shoplifting, assault, property damage and theft.

The community conference is a formal meeting facilitated by trained facilitators and involves the affected person, person responsible, their families and supporters and other community members. The goal of the conference is to have participants reach an agreement which:

  • repairs the harm caused by the offending behaviour
  • provides restitution to those harmed
  • restores relationships

Conference characteristics

  • organized and led by trained volunteer facilitators
  • outcomes belong to the participants
  • held in neutral community location
  • safe setting for all participants to tell their stories and be heard
  • results in a signed agreement between affected person and person responsible

Completion of a successful conference is usually rewarding and satisfying to all parties and helps to support the goal of a healthy and safe community.


This is a quote from a letter sent to our organization by one of our local police officers following the completion of a facilitated conference by two of our members.

“I am so pleased to hear that the RJ process was successful in this matter.  You know how much I believe in the power of the RJ process in both acknowledging what has occurred and also the healing potential for all involved as they move forward in their lives. Thanks again to both of you for your hard work in bringing us all together and then spending that extra time in supporting both sides of this family through the agreement process.”