Why do we need a restorative criminal justice system?
The criminal justice system in England and Wales takes a punitive response to crime. It seeks to punish individualsbut does very little to repair harm to victims and reconnect individuals to the community.
Restorative justice is a voluntary process which brings victims and individuals who have committed a crimeinto communication to address harm. Research shows it can improve victim satisfaction and wellbeing and reduce reoffending. But restorative justice is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the wider restorative practice and approaches taking place across the criminal justice system.
Restorative practice and approaches support people to recognise harm, take responsibility, resolve tension and conflict, and repair relationships. Examples includeinterventions within prisons to reduce violence and within schools to prevent exclusions and subsequent criminal exploitation of children.
The CJA identifiesopportunities for restorative justice, practice and approachesand advocates for a restorative criminal justice system.
Our recent work:
Restorative Expert Group
Our Restorative Expert Group informs our work on restorative justice, practice and approaches. The group meets regularly todiscuss the barriers to a restorative criminal justice system and identify ways forward.
Calling for a more restorative approach in prisons
The government recently published its Prisons White Paper, setting out its strategy for prisons over the next 10 years. In our response, we call for prison staff to be trained in taking a restorative approach when dealing with conflict. We also recommend that Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service uses restorative practices in human resources policies and processes to truly embed a restorative culture.
The first in our Responding Restoratively series, this briefing looks at how restorative justice, practice and approaches have been used to repair harm and alleviate conflict during the pandemic. We also considered how restorative practice and approaches could help society heal as it recovers from the pandemic.
In this briefing, we studied how restorative justice is being used in England and Wales, finding a postcode lottery in access to restorative justice.We also looked at therestorative practice taking place across the criminal justice system, as well as the emerging trend of restorative schools, restorative prisons and restorative cities.
In 2016, we calculated the cost of giving every victim in England and Wales the opportunity to engage in restorative justice. Despite the benefits of restorative justice for victims, no such national costing had been done by policy makers.