Goals of Restorative Justice
In responding to crime and injustice, RJ City pursues three objectives: resolution, community building, and safety.
Three goals shape a restorative response to crime. In order of decreasing importance they are:
The process of doing so identifies the injustice that took place and the steps the offender needs to take to make things right (now and in the future). Full restoration may not be possible, but the emphasis is on making progress toward resolution. Even when that proves impossible, at least the harms should not be made worse.
Strategies for accomplishing this goal include providing for party-to-party encounters, providing for encounters between the parties with the assistance of a facilitator and when needed, providing outside authorities to decide on how restoration and resolution can best be sought. The first two strategies are used when the parties choose to engage with each other in response to a crime. The third is limited to those times when an adjudicative component is required, either instead of or in addition to a cooperative process.
Within RJ City, the constellation of programs, services and institutions that make cooperative and adjudicative processes possible are referred to as the Resolution Sphere. If the parties are unwilling or unable to reach mutual agreement using cooperative processes, the matter is referred to adjudicative processes. If necessary, coercion may be used in the adjudicative process to secure the presence of essential parties. However, at all times the parties are invited to initiate or renew efforts at a cooperative resolution. In addition, collaborative processes may take place within an adjudicative process, such as when a judge delays sentencing until the parties and their communities of care have engaged in dialogue about how the victim’s needs could best be met.
Strategies for accomplishing this goal include allowing the parties and their communities of care to recover from the harm and be integrated into the community on their own and without outside assistance. A second strategy is to provide assistance and active support from outside resources to help the parties and their communities of care to recover and be integrated into their communities. A third strategy is focused on the communities of the parties; here the communities themselves receive assistance in becoming better able to provide a pro-social, constructive and hospitable environment for the parties.
The first strategy can be accomplished by the party and his/her community of care alone. The second strategy requires assistance from community or government resources. The third strategy requires assistance to the community, which could come from within the community, from the government, or from other external sources.
Parties are not coerced into using the available resources or into pursuing recovery or integration. Necessary resources, however, are available for those who choose to use them. This requires the presence of a range of programs and services, as well as compassionate community members that parties can draw from. These services are available to all members of the community and not simply to those who have caused or suffered harm through criminal activities. Within RJ City, this constellation of programs and individuals offering such resources and services is referred to as the Community Building Sphere.
Strong communities provide environments in which constructive relationships thrive. However, some conflict and crime occur, and can overwhelm even strong communities. In that case the community needs the assistance of governmentally administered intervention that can meet the danger and impose necessary order so as to protect community members. Examples of this range from emergency services in a natural disaster to breaking up, illegal gang activity, drug trafficking, and so forth.
Strategies for accomplishing this goal include adoption of laws and regulations by democratically selected governments, self-enforcement of those laws and regulations by affected community members, and suppression of crime by government authorities.
In RJ City, the programs and agencies involved in pursuing these strategies are included in the Order Sphere. While the pursuit of these strategies involves activities that are similar to police functions and programs in other jurisdictions (for example, traffic enforcement, police units focusing on illegal business practices, illegal gang activity, drug trafficking, serial crime, and so forth), it differs in important ways as well. First, community participation and responsiveness are emphasized more than they are outside of RJ City. Second, those activities are viewed as temporary necessities that give way to more community-based and cooperative strategies whenever possible.
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