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Series on the Language of Community Justice: Part 3

Fatima Jayoma | Rural Projects Coordinator at SVJI @MNCASA

To finish our three-part series on community justice language, we’ll be discussing the term “restorative justice” (if you missed them, be sure to check out part 1 and part 2). The restorative approach has deep roots in indigenous peacemaking traditions. Restorative processes often revolve around the questions (Zehr, 2002):

  • Who has been hurt? 
  • What are their needs?
  • Whose obligations are these?

INCITE! defines restorative justice as “an umbrella term that describes a wide range of programs which attempt to address crime from a restorative and reconciliatory rather than a punitive framework.” The restorative approach does not begin with the assumption that punishment is necessary or sufficient to restore justice.

Restorative justice relies on the person who experienced harm, the person who caused harm, and the communities they are part of to work together to determine an appropriate response to the violence that occurred to restore the community. The keyword is “restore.” Simply, the person who created harm needs to restore the situation to what it was before the harm. It is important to keep in mind that restoring only works when the communities hold the person who caused harm accountable.

I also want to point out that while they do sometimes overlap, restorative justice and transformative justice are not interchangeable. Restorative justice aims at the personal and interpersonal transformation.

To learn more about the difference between punitive, restorative, and transformative justice, check out this list of resources compiled by VAWnet.

That concludes our three-part series on community justice language. I hope that this series has allowed you to delve deeper into the question, “What does justice look like for survivors?

Stay tuned and let us know in the comments or by emailing svji@mncasa.org if you have any questions!