What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice is an approach to justice that aims to involve the parties to a dispute and others affected by the harm (victims, offenders, families concerned and community members) in collectively identifying harms, needs and obligations through
accepting responsibilities, making restitution, and taking measures to prevent a recurrence of the incident and promoting reconciliation.
Restorative Justice sees crime as an act against the victim and shifts the focus to repairing the harm that has been committed against the victim and community. It believes that the offender also needs assistance and seeks to identify what needs to change
to prevent future re-offending.
When can it be applied?
Restorative Justice can be applied at any stage in the Criminal Justice System such as:-
Pre-charge (before a charge is laid).
Pre-trial (after a charge is laid and before accused appears in Court).
Post-charge (after charge, but before plea in court).
After conviction, but before sentence.
Post-sentence (for parole and re-integration purposes).
What are the benefits of a restorative approach to justice?
Benefiting criminal justice agencies
Enhance community involvement in the dispute resolution process
What are the values and principles of Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice processes must comply with the
rule of law, human rights principles and the rights
provided in the South African Constitution.
Restorative Justice must promote the dignity of
victims and offenders, and ensure that there is no
domination or discrimination.
All parties must be provided with complete
information as to the purpose of the process,
their rights within the process and the possible
outcomes of the process.
Parties should clearly understand that they may
withdraw from the process at any time.
Parties must be given a reasonable amount of
time to consider their options, when a restorative
justice option is proposed.
Referral to restorative justice processes is possible
at any stage of the criminal justice system, with
particular emphasis on pre-trial diversion, plea and
sentence agreements, pre-sentence process, as
part of the sentence, and part of the reintegration
process, including parole.
Participation in restorative justice processes must
be voluntary for all parties, including victims.
Victims and offenders should be allowed to bring
support persons to the encounter provided that
this does not compromise the rights and safety of
any other party.