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EXPLORING RESTORATIVE JUSTICE AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO INCARCERATION

ABSTRACT

In contrast to the traditional punitive method of dealing with crimes, restorative justice aims to treat offences from a perspective that is different. Both the victim and the perpetrator are given the opportunity to convey their perspectives in this extremely holistic and community-centered approach. Through restoration, reparation, and accountability, restorative practices seek to promote communal healing. In this blog, we'll look at how restorative justice could serve as a beneficial alternative to incarceration.


KEYWORDS: Punitive method, Restorative Justice, Community Centered Approach, Restoration, Reparation, Accountability


INTRODUCTION

Restorative justice is crucial in helping people realize that crimes are a violation of fundamental human rights and that it is crucial to make reparations for the harm done.

Restorative justice is a critical transforming alternative in a world where crime rates are rising significantly. It helps to view things differently, emphasizing rehabilitation over harsh punishment as a means of enforcing the law.[1] By including both the criminal and the victim in society and providing them with the chance to present their cases, restorative justice promotes community reconciliation. By allowing the victim to actively take part in the discussions, it offers them a feeling of affirmation.[2]

One of the most significant aspects of restorative justice is that it assists the offender in understanding what led to the crime's origin and also aids in the offender's personal development by assisting them in understanding the consequences of the crime they have committed and how they can avoid committing similar offences in the future.


HISTORY OF RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

While many of the values and tenets of restorative justice can be found in indigenous societies, it was probably a vandalism case in Kitchener, Ontario in 1974 that gave rise to the practice of restorative justice in the legal system. The perpetrators of the crime were compelled to meet with their victims and make amends, as opposed to going through the typical judicial process, in what is known as the Kitchener Experiment. Several small-scale, experimental programmes based on the Kitchener Experiment were put into place in Canadian and American jurisdictions over the course of the following two decades, primarily for use with first-time offenders who were involved in minor offences.

By the middle of the 1990s, the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) had released a report titled Restorative Community Justice: A Call to Action, and the American Bar Association had endorsed the practice of victim-offender mediation, both of which called for the expansion of restorative justice practices in legal and other contexts.[3]

Despite the fact that restorative justice programmes have been around for a while, their use has greatly increased recently. From being an experimental practice in the 1970s to an important part of criminal and juvenile practice in almost every state today, restorative justice has evolved as a means of repairing harm, addressing the needs of victims and communities, and encouraging offender accountability and desistance from crime[4].


VICTIM-OFFENDER MEDIATION

The victim-offender mediation is a type of practice that essentially allows the victim to meet the offender in a secure setting with the goal of receiving some sort of restitution from the offender for the crime that the offender has done.

A mediator assists the victim in helping the offender understand how their actions affected the victim and caused significant harm. The mediator also contributes to the creation of a restitution plan that is offered to the offender in order to make up for the losses suffered by the victim.

In contrast to typical mediations, which are "settlement driven," victim-offender mediations are "dialogue driven," which aids in victim recovery and holds the offender responsible for their acts. [5]This is a procedure that is crucial in undoing the damage that an offence has produced. Reparations can be made by restitution, lifestyle adjustments that are necessary, community services, and psychological assurance that future offences won't be committed in the same way.[6]

Victim-offender mediation brings both the victim and the offender into the picture, which is very important for community healing; however, it is also very important to note that this type of mediation is not appropriate for all types of cases. Instead, it is very important for us to take into account the complexity of the cases and the willingness of the participants.


RESTORATIVE JUSTICE IN EDUCATION

Instead of immediately resorting to punitive measures, such as suspending a student, restorative justice in education helps to develop a courteous and supportive environment that addresses problems via reparation and rehabilitation.[7] It involves all the parties involved—teachers, students, parents, and kids—and creates a framework for resolving conflicts that won't interfere with the child's learning process while also making the youngster aware of the negative consequences of his or her actions.

Implementing restorative practices has a variety of advantages that improve the learning process, including the following.

  1. Building of relationships: By creating a communicative atmosphere, restorative justice aids in the development of relationships. It also fosters empathy, which enables us to put ourselves in the shoes of others.[8]

  2. Conflict Resolution: Restorative justice is crucial in teaching children how to resolve problems in productive ways, which promotes a more positive learning environment.

  3. Accountability of the students: Additionally, restorative justice holds students accountable for their actions and motivates them to learn from their mistakes so they won't repeat them in the future.

  4. Peer Mediation and leadership: Students who participate in restorative justice programmes develop leadership skills and are encouraged to work as mediators to resolve disputes effectively without using punitive measures.

  5. Therefore, restorative justice in education serves to foster relationships among students by resolving conflicts amicably rather than using harsher sanctions that could result in a child being suspended. Since education is a tool that aids in a child's personal development, restorative justice, when combined with education, aids in a child's personal development as well as the development of leadership and mediation skills.


COMMUNITY-BASED SENTENCING AND RESTORATION

The majority of western countries have seen an increase in community-based alternatives to incarceration during the past ten years. This has led to a higher judicial reliance on non-custodial sentencing alternatives along with statutory instructions to courts to sentence with discretion about the use of detention. This heightened interest and legislative activity are explained by many variables. First of all, there is a growing understanding of the limitations of incarceration in terms of rehabilitation and deterrence. [9]Most rehabilitation programmes may be executed more successfully while the offender is in the community rather than in detention, according to correctional professionals in general.

It is becoming more and more obvious that prison is not any more effective as a general or specific deterrent than the harsher interim punishments. Second, keeping a criminal under constant supervision is substantially more expensive than maintaining them under community supervision.[10] Third, studies on public opinion have shown that, with the exception of extremely violent offences, the public has become increasingly in favour of community-based punishment in recent years.[11]

Participating in a community-based sentencing process fosters a sense of shared responsibility.

It is a strategy that helps us realize how important it is for communities to hold criminals accountable for their actions while simultaneously working to avoid future crimes. This strategy promotes a more inclusive and collaborative manner of dealing with crimes that would serve as a creative alternative to incarceration, ensuring the safety of a community by actively participating in discussions that would avoid such crimes in the future.


CONCLUSION

In conclusion, restorative justice is a revolutionary substitute for imprisonment that places a greater emphasis on rehabilitation than punishment. It is a form of justice that strives to make the criminal justice system more humane. It is a system that is less expensive than the punitive methods of justice, which focus resources on incarceration and jails while ignoring spending money on other areas of life that need immediate attention, such as industrialization, healthcare, and education.

Even though restorative justice cannot be used for all crimes, it is still crucial in cases involving prostitution, traffic violations, drug abuse, and crimes involving young people who are too young to understand the seriousness of the crime and will therefore cause less harm to society.

By incorporating restorative justice into the criminal justice system, people's perspectives will shift, leading them to seek rehabilitation for the perpetrator rather than just harsher punishment. It is a strategy that not only helps the person but also has a big impact on society by bringing about significant changes.


REFERENCES [1] Carrie Menkel-Meadow , Annual Review of Law and Social Science 2007 3:1, 161-187 https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.lawsocsci.2.081805.110005 [2] ibid [3] Handbook of Restorative Justice: A Global Perspective edited by Dennis Sullivan, Larry Tifft https://books.google.com.bd/books?hl=en&lr=&id=v8Y8cZk8-g4C&oi=fnd&pg=PA23&dq=History+of+restorative+justice&ots=mxXa0wDMMp&sig=l2aH1GF5jgY8l6llchS5QYJEmDY&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=History%20of%20restorative%20justice&f=false [4] Armour, M. (n.d.). Restorative Justice: Some Facts and History. Charter for Compassion website; accessed <11/4/20 at https://charterforcompassion.org/restorative-justice/restorative-justice-some-facts-and-history.> [5] Umbreit, Mark S. 1998. "Restorative Justice Through Victim-Offender Mediation: A Multi-Site Assessment." Western Criminology Review 1(1). [Online]. Available: http://www.westerncriminology.org/documents/WCR/v01n1/Umbreit/umbreit.html [6] Ibid [7] Maisha T. Winn. (2021) Futures Matter: Creating Just Futures in This Age of Hyper-incarceration. Peabody Journal of Education 96:5, pages 527-539 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/citedby/10.1080/00405841.2019.1626613?scroll=top&needAccess=true&role=tab [8] Mark Finnis, Restorative practice: Placing relationships at the heart of teaching [2021] https://www.headteacher-update.com/best-practice-article/restorative-practice-placing-relationships-at-the-heart-of-teaching/236483 [9] Community-Based Sentencing: The perspectives of crime victims https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cj-jp/victim/rr04_vic1/p1.html [10] Ibid [11] Ibid

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