Criminal justice usually focuses on lawbreakers and punishment. Criminal behavior is seen as an offense against society or an arbitrary set of abstract legal principles. So, if someone steals an apple from a fruit stand, from the perspective of the justice system, they violate the law against stealing. The impact on the victim can easily get lost.
So what about the individuals involved? Who was that criminal really violating? The state and its laws—or the owner of the fruit stand? Restorative justice takes into account that the criminal is hurting the fruit seller, who now has one less apple to sell to feed her family.
Do you see the difference? In the one case, there is really nothing the offender or the victim can do but accept that “the law” is being properly administered. While this is important to maintain peace, that approach can leave the victim feeling insignificant.
Restorative justice allows you to tell the person who hurt you how their choices negatively affect you and to hear their remorse in a safe environment. There is no expectation of forgiveness, but there is the opportunity to move toward resolving the feelings that are affecting you negatively.
Click through to the video for more on Restorative Justice from host Allie Fionda!
Together in strength we will forgive,
The Will To Forgive Team