A Different Approach

RJ Minute: Traditional vs. Restorative Justice

When I say that restorative justice (RJ) favors healing over punishment, here’s what I mean.

For misconduct, our traditional discipline system asks three basic questions:

  1. WHAT RULES HAVE BEEN BROKEN?
  2. WHO DID IT?
  3. WHAT DO THEY DESERVE?[1]

Accountability is defined by legal consequences such as fines, community service, suspension, expulsion or incarceration.

But restorative justice takes the same situation of misconduct and comes at it from a different angle. Instead of focusing on rules and consequences, RJ asks three different questions:

  1. WHO HAS BEEN HURT?
  2. WHAT ARE THEIR NEEDS?
  3. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ADDRESSING THOSE NEEDS?[2]

Accountability is defined as healing the harm, making things right.

Restorative justice opens possibilities for healing and connection far beyond the incident of misconduct[3].

Explore our website to learn more or sign up for an upcoming training to put the power of this process to work in your community!

[1] Zehr, Howard (2002) The Little Book of Restorative Justice. Good Books; Intercourse, PA p.21

[2] Zehr, H. (2002) p.21

[3] Riestenberg, Nancy (2012) Circle in the Square: Community Building and Repairing Harm in School. Living Justice Press; St. Paul, MN

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