What is Restorative Justice?


Restorative Justice originated from the indigenous Maori justice process in New Zealand.

In the 1970s, Restorative Justice was introduced on a basic level into the criminal justice system.

Within the past 15-10 years, Restorative Justice has been used in the educational system due so its positive impact.

So what is Restorative Justice?

"Restorative justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in the specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible."

- Howard Zehr, The Little Book of Restorative Justice

The 3 pillars of Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice can not function without its three pillars: Harms and Needs, Obligations, and Engagement. Without all three of these aspects of conflict, Restorative Justice can not exist.

Why do people respond well to Restorative Justice?

Restorative Justice is not punitive, and in this, it allows for people to make mistakes, learn from them, and still feel they are a valuable member of their community.

Restorative Justice:

  • It is more like mediation
  • Is people-centered
  • Identifies harm
  • Invites participation
  • Is balanced between the harmed party and the offender
  • Can actually strengthen the community following an incident


Retributive Justice:

  • It is more like the traditional criminal justice system
  • Is procedure-centered
  • Identifies a law or rule violation
  • Limits participation
  • Is offender-focused
  • Often leaves residual trauma from incidents in the community

Page last modified October 20, 2022