Implementation of Restorative Justice in the US Justice

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US Justice System

The United States justice system is mainly founded on retribution.Hence, in most cases offenders are punished for their wrongdoings.Under this system, the state acts as the victim of crimes and has theauthority to punish individuals considered to be criminals (Polish,2015). Contrary, restorative justice aims at addressing crimesthrough understanding the level of harm inflicted on the directvictim. Instead of punishment, the justice system focuses onreconciliation between the offender, victim and society (Polish,2015).

Implementation in Education Systems

Restorative justice should be implemented in the American justice oreducational systems. Most applicable is in the education systems. Inmost cases, students are involved in minor crimes such as bullying.As such, punishing such a student through the juvenile systemenhances the possibility that he/she will engage in wrongdoing again(Polish, 2015). Restorative justice in such a case ensures that thebully and victim address the issue together. The victim expresses howthey have been hurt by the bully and in the process the bully learnswhy they should not engage in such an offence. Restorative justice inthe education systems will encourage the forging of frankrelationships amid students, their teachers and schools at large(Polish, 2015). It gives students the opportunity to mend theirdifferences or harm caused to others. The justice system will alsowork as a substitute to common expulsions as well as suspensions inschool that negatively affect the academic life of students (Polish,2015).

Primary Approach to Justice

Restorative justice should be America’s primary approach tojustice. Unlike the current justice system in U.S. restorativejustice has a higher probability of reducing crime. The retributivejustice system has proven to be ineffective owing to the highrecidivism. This is especially the case in poor urban societies(Adler School Institute, 2011). In such societies, majority ofthe citizens have been imprisoned. Since many of the offenders arereleased after serving their term, they still go back to the samesociety where crime is high, which results in re-entry into prison.As such, harsh punishment proves to be ineffective in solving thecrime problems in poor communities (Adler School Institute,2011). However, restorative justice creates an opportunity for theoffender and victim to assess the effects of the crime. Offenders areable to explain their reasons for wrongdoing, while victims expresshow the crime has affected them. Such a system does not onlyreconcile the victim and offender, but makes it possible tounderstand the problems in the offender’s life that encourage crime(Adler School Institute, 2011). Once the problems are solved,the problem of recidivism is largely solved. Another reason formaking restorative justice our primary justice system is to reducethe financial burden on government. The current system necessitatesthe use of funds in making arrests, correctional supervision, courtcases, and supporting prisons (Vespa, 2015). Since the objective ofrestorative justice is to reconcile offenders and their society, itreduces the need to arrest people, eliminates the need for courtcases or correctional supervision, which saves government money.

Successes and Obstacles

There are many ways to ensure restorative justice takes place. Theseinclude victim-offender dialogue, where a meeting is organizedbetween the wrongdoer and victim. The meeting is directed by acompetent mediator (Braithwaite, 2004). Group conferencing involvesfamily members mediating with an offender. The method mainly appliesto juvenile offences, where the objective is to reconcile thejuvenile with other family members (Braithwaite, 2004). Another wayis restorative conferencing, which is a meeting between offenders andmembers of their society, where they address the consequences ofwrongdoing (Braithwaite, 2004). The success of this system is that itresults in closure between the wrongdoer and victims. In most cases,victims are interested in knowing why someone, for example, decidesto violently steal from them. Closure enhances the possibility thatthe victims will forgive the criminal and accept them back intosociety. Another success is that it reduces the likelihood of arrestdue to crimes that can be solved by reconciliation. The challengewith restorative justice is that the process still depends on judgesor prosecutors to refer individuals convicted of offences torestorative procedures. Thus, the system is powerless because judgesstill hold the right to refer criminals to retributive processes.

Offering Victims/Offenders a Choice

Victims/offenders should both be offered an alternative ofrestorative justice or traditional process. The alternative should beoffered when the crime committed does not threaten the victim’slife. For instance, when a young person steals and is arrested, atthat point the prosecutor should allow restorative processes betweenthe juvenile, the parents and victim. This is because in such acrime, the parents are able to explain to their child why it is wrongto steal. The child also explains why they stole and apologizes tothe victims. Parents can also organize for compensation, forinstance, paying for what was stolen. However, in some crimes,especially where the life of the victim is threatened, restorativejustice is ineffective. For instance, an individual arrested for rapeis a threat to society in that even after reconciliation they couldrepeat the crime on another victim. Thus, such an individual isbetter off in prison, to avoid the threat to society.


Adler School Institute. (2011). White paper on restorativejustice: A primer and exploration of practice across two NorthAmerican cities, 1-21.

Braithwaite, J. (2004). Restorative Justice andDe-Professionalization. The Good Society, 13 (1), 28–31.

Polish, J. (2015). How can restorative justice change the criminalsystem? Law Street. Retrieved from:

Vespa, M. (2015). An expensive and bankrupt criminal justice system.Truth Voice. Retrieved from: