Restorative Justice: The Promise, the Challenge (571)

Carl Stauffer and Johonna McCants

Restorative Justice focuses on repairing the harm caused by and revealed by crime, violence or other wrongdoing. It seeks to involve those who have a stake in a specific offense (victim, offender, family networks, community, civil society, and institutional or state actors) to identify and address the harms, needs, and obligations of all involved in order to heal and reconstruct relationships and structures in society. Restorative Justice is built on values of respect, encounter, amends, reintegration and inclusion.

In this course you will critically examine the fundamental principles and practices of restorative justice and experience a unique opportunity to explore not only the promise of, but also the challenge to the restorative justice field in a variety of contexts. You will explore the needs and roles of key stakeholders, outline the basic principles and values of restoration, and be introduced to some of the primary models of practice. The course also addresses the “challenges” to restorative justice and some of the strategies to help prevent restorative justice from failing to live up to its promise. The central starting point for the course is the Western legal (criminal justice) system and the problem of crime and public violence; however attention is also given to applications in and lessons from international contexts. Of particular interest is the contribution of traditional or indigenous approaches to justice.