The Fundamental Principle of Restorative Justice
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Throughout the past few weeks, my definition of justice had definitely changed. My definition of justice prior was you do something wrong you get punished or sent away for it. The severity of the punishment was dependent upon the nature of the crime. Although I knew many crimes produce victims, I always felt bad for them, but never gave deep thought about the lasting impact. I also never thought passed the most simple thought, the bad man did wrong, bad man got caught the end of the story. Having learned about restorative justice has absolutely broadened my perspective of justice. I now believe that victims and communities having a part in the justice can be a facilitator of healing as well as create learning lessons to others to hopefully help them to deviate from crime. I also believe that there are some criminals who can truly benefit from restorative justice and that not all criminals deserve to be demonized for life. Some do deserve their second chance and an opportunity to face their victims with hopes of learning their lesson and living a more righteous life. Our guest speakers come in with knowledge and experience of restorative justice tactics and expanded our view of the way justice works and/or should work. Overall I’ve learned that justice is not a one size fits all and that restorative justice can be useful for healing by all parties and restoring confidence in communities as well as the justice system.
Traditionally when a crime is committed, the justice system is primarily concerned with three questions; who did it, what law was broken, and what kinda punishment/treatment does the offender deserve? This approach is also known as the retributive approach, meaning that the desired outcome is punishment for the committed offense. The restorative justice approach is different because they would like to make sure everyone heals from the situation. The retributive practice considers crime as an offense to the law an that it has to be punished, whereas the restorative practice views the crime and harm done to the victim and the community. They ask whos responsible, what needs to be done to fix, who was harmed, what was the nature of the harm, should they be incarcerated, etc. Victim and offender dialogue is used to try and heal the situation along with input from the community and anyone else involved.
The fundamental principle of restorative justice is holding an offender accountable for their crimes by facing the entity that the harm or crime was inflicted upon. It’s a form of reconciliation with the victim of the crime and allowing the victim to be a part of the process. It is also holding a way to commence healing by both parties as well as the possibility of forgiveness for their wrongs. Healthy meetings and transparent dialogues are also key to success for restorative justice. By using this module in our everyday lives, we may be able to openly discuss our feelings when others have hurt us without fear of making the other person mad. Too many times I have tolerated behaviors of others yet, I never said a word for fear of contention or to further exasperate the issue. This, unfortunately, makes me hold things inside which is not healthy. By using the practice of restorative justice, I would be able to sit the person down to openly discuss my discontent without backlash but instead an understanding and of course a fair resolution to hopefully continue on in harmony. I could also use restorative justice because I tend to be selfish as I live in a me, me, me society. I tend to not always think about how I may have hurt someone. I rarely take the time to place myself into someone else’s shoes which makes me move blindly hurting someone. By using restorative justice principles, I will hold myself accountable and face the person I’ve I intentionally hurt. I can then express my apology for my actions and collaborate on ways that I can right my wrongs. Another way I can use restorative justice is by allowing someone who has wronged me to state their views and come to a mutual understanding or maybe even forgiveness. This is difficult because my pride, ego and protective nature currently doesn’t allow me to do this. However, maybe there are some who are deserving of a second chance and I will look at each instance and reevaluate. Instilling the practice of restorative justice in my everyday life seems like a building block to my own personal growth and maturity. It will also help me to hold myself accountable for my actions and help to create a platform where I can ask for forgiveness or offer forgiveness to others. If society used the principles of restorative justice in their everyday lives it will strengthen professional, personal and community relations. Healthy conversations aligned with healthy resolutions can lead to a harmonious society.