Intern Kasi's Blog: Is Restorative Justice Worse For Us Than Incarceration?

Restorative Justice sounds like an end all be all to the problem that is the American justice system, but what if it isn’t as good as what we think? What if it actually harms our justice system? In a Wal-Mart in California, after a customer has attempted to steal a few items, they were taken into the back of the store and shown a video on how a criminal record can ruin someone’s future and was then told that they could fess up and attend a behavioral therapy to avoid this case going to court. When the individual was unable to fork up a $50 minimum fee, his case went to court, but not because he had attempted to steal something, instead it was part of another case on a company, CEC doing this to people in these stores and how it was illegal to do so. The company called this Restorative Justice. As we all now know, this is not restorative justice at all, and is, in fact, quite the opposite of it. Restorative justice is holding a perpetrator accountable to their actions and realizing where they went wrong. So there are companies and people out there that believe that this is restorative justice? How is that at all beneficial?

In an article on restorative justice and its effectiveness, it states that, in some cases, restorative justice does not allow most victims to participate in any formal process to resolve the issues surrounding their victimization. They also state that restorative justice doesn’t address the needs of the victim, and that victims need more than what restorative justice provides. In these ways, one can say that maybe restorative justice isn’t as positive as we once thought. But restorative justice isn’t about just the victim and their story, it is also about the perpetrator/offender and their story. It is about the offender being held accountable for their actions and understanding that what they did was wrong and how they as a person can fix it.

But on the other hand, in another article, it is said that there are many more benefits to restorative than costs. There are benefits for victims; obtain information, express the impact, be empowered, obtain restitution, an have control over the process and outcome. There are benefits for the community; be recognized and participate as secondary victims, be empowered, and build community responsibility. There are benefits for the offender; take accountability, undergo personal transformation, and can even be reintegrated when it is appropriate and safe for the offender, victim, and community. In the end, restorative justice is a work in progress as not many people know exactly what it is or how it works. With more education, this is a concept and practice that can be implemented in many communities and can help resolve the stigma around being an offender or victim.

All information for this post was taken from these two sites: