What is restorative justice?
Restorative Justice is an approach that focuses on the victims and their needs, includes the community and attempts to restore it, holds the offender responsible and accountable to both the victim and the community and as a result of the process, the offender has improved competency and understanding.
In 1995 the purposes of Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system were redefined by the Legislature to provide a balanced approach to the problem of crime committed by young people in our communities. Restorative justice requires that attention be paid to the protection of the community, the imposition of accountability for offenses committed and the development of competencies to enable youths to become responsible and productive members of the community. Priority is given to repairing the harm done to crime victims and communities and requiring offenders to take action to repair the harm done. Mediators and other volunteers assist in this effort in their local communities.
In January 2000, MCMC expanded the services of the agency to include restorative justice programs for juvenile offenders. This was a natural fit, because the history of the restorative justice movement is rooted in the mediation process.
Restorative Justice approaches crime as the result of community conflict and disharmony and "justice" can be achieved by peacemaking, dispute resolution and rebuilding "right relationships" (Christie, 1977; Van Ness et al., 1989).
Crime is seen as not merely as a violation of the law, but as a violation of the community. Thus, those most impacted by crime–the victim, the offender, their families, and their community–are the ones who best know how to address it.