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Restorative Justice - Areas of Application

Restorative Justice Areas of Application

Restorative justice is an approach of addressing harm or the risk of harm through engaging all those affected in coming to a common understanding and agreement on how the harm or wrongdoing can be repaired and justice achieved. It can be applied where people experience harm in society, in organisations, in schools, in families and in the justice system.

The following pages offer information on the specific areas where restorative justice can be beneficially applied and the principles and safeguards that apply to the particular domains. These information pages include indication for further resources (resource kits) and thematic and policy briefs that can be downloaded in PDF format. The list of these areas is not exhaustive, there are several other areas where restorative justice is applied well. The EFRJ continues to develop further information resourses and will share these here in the future. 

Research in restorative justice shows the great benefits that this approach has to individuals and society. Among others, victims’ needs of recognition and for understanding are more easily met due to the greater involvement in the justice process, and desistance from reoffending is better achieved.

Restorative justice offers victims the chance to reclaim their voice, not as a victim but as a survivor. Victims often speak of their need to re-narrate their life stories as 'survivors' of sexual violence rather than ‘rape victims’. Victims can challenge the perception that their lives have been ruined: the change in the self-narrative is one of the primary benefits mentioned in the aftermath of a restorative justice encounter.

Restorative justice is a communication process and an approach to justice in which the child’s right to be heard is actively implemented. Restorative justice takes children seriously, creating a safe space for them to take responsibility and involving them in all matters that concern them. Its basic principles are voluntariness, confidentiality and impartiality of the facilitators.

In any society conflict can arise, but it is important to learn to manage it with respect for human dignity, seeking together the best solutions. For this, restorative justice is a precious tool: to help people to seek agreements between them, instead of separating them, to identify together a way to undo the injustices that produce pain, and to teach people to count on each other.

Restorative processes such as mediation and circles can have a significant impact on prison culture by reducing violent reactions to conflict. Restorative circles through which staff and inmates engage in dialogue on a range of issues and problems affecting life in prisons can improve respect, responsibility and relationships between prisoners and between staff and prisoners.

The principles that drive restorative justice such as relational definitions of harm, participation, harm reparation and healing, are principles that must be central in conceiving environmental justice. The term environmental restorative justice indicates both how an environmental agenda can contribute to restorative justice and how restorative justice can be used in the context of environmental harm.

Restorative justice services and practitioners did not stop working during COVID-19, but adapted their practice and training for online, telephone and socially distant delivery. They also used their skills to respond to conflicts and meet needs arising from the virus and the strict public health regulations, such as lockdowns and social distancing. This page outlines some restorative services and practices during the period of the pandemic (2020 - 2021).