What is restorative justice?

Restorative justice is an approach to justice that focuses on addressing the harm caused by crime and meeting the needs of those involved. In essence, restorative justice processes provide opportunities for safe and voluntary dialogue between victims, offenders, and communities.

To learn more about restorative justice, watch this short video:

Participation in restorative justice processes can lead to:

Victims can tell their story, see that the offender understands the impact of their crime, find answers to questions that are important to them, and identify what, if anything, can be done to repair the harm they have experienced.

Offenders can tell their story, acknowledge and accept responsibility for the harm they have caused, express remorse, and repair the harm, where possible.

Communities can speak to the wider impacts of crime, express and reduce their fears, gain a better understanding of the root causes of crime, and take an active role in preventing future harm.

About restorative justice at Correctional Service of Canada

Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has explored restorative justice since the late 1980's and established its Restorative Justice Division in 1996. CSC has been advancing work in the field of restorative justice in three principles areas:

In 1991, after completing a survey of victim and offender groups on their interest in restorative justice and victim-offender mediation, CSC funded a pilot project through the Community Justice Initiatives Fraser Region, British Columbia. CSC first began delivering victim-offender mediation in the Pacific Region in 1992 and the program was evaluated. Roberts (1995) found that the victim-offender mediation experience offers victims a sense of closure and control over their lives, while achieving a healing experience for both victim and offender. He also found that it contributes to the creation of healthier communities by resolving outstanding issues for victims and assisting offenders to be more accountable for their actions. There was unanimous support for the program by victim and offender respondents. The victim-offender mediation process was approved by CSC to expand nationally in 2003, and did so in 2004. In 2006, the program was renamed and became the Restorative Opportunities program.

CSC is looking for innovative ways of applying restorative justice in the correctional setting. The Restorative Justice Division provides support to staff, institutional managers, and community organizations interested in developing and incorporating restorative justice within the prison or community correctional setting. Initiatives have included:

CSC also contributes to raising awareness and the advancement of restorative justice in Canada through its policy reviews through a restorative justice lens and its work with federal, provincial and territorial working groups and various committees. CSC encourages individuals, communities and other government departments to participate in annual Restorative Justice Week events and help make resources available online.

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