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Restorative Justice Processes

Short descriptions of the three main processes most often identified with restorative justice: restorative circles, restorative conferencing, and victim-offender mediation.

Restorative Circles

Circles are facilitated community meetings attended by offenders, victims, their friends and families, interested members of the community, and (usually) representatives of the justice system. The facilitator is a community member (called a “keeper”) whose role is primarily to keep the process orderly and periodically to summarize for the benefit of the circle. They are derived from aboriginal peacemaking practices in North America.

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Restorative Conferencing

Conferencing brings the victim and offender to a face-to-face meeting to discuss the crime and its impact. This process includes support people for both the victim and offender in the discussions. Representatives from the criminal justice system may also be present in the conference process. A trained facilitator, who does not have a role in the substantive discussions, guides the participants in a dialogue about the crime and its impact. The facilitator ensures that each participant has a voice in the proceedings.

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Victim-Offender Mediation

Victim Offender Mediation (VOM) brings victims and offenders together with a trained facilitator to discuss the crime and develop an agreement for how to make things right. This process focuses on creating a safe, comfortable environment in which restorative dialogue can take place. At the outset, victims are invited to tell the story about the crime from their perspective, to express how it has impacted their lives, and to ask the offenders any questions they may have. Offenders are then given the opportunity to talk about what they did, to explain why they did it, and to answer any questions that the victim has asked.

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Restorative Justice Online - Featured Video

A long-time repeat offender describes the impact of meeting with his victims.