Restorative Justice is an approach that focuses on repairing relationships and the harm caused by crime while holding offenders accountable. It provides an opportunity for the parties directly affected by crime – victims and survivors, offenders and their communities – to identify and address their needs in the aftermath of a crime, and seek a resolution that fosters healing, reparation and reintegration, and prevents future harm. – Howard Zehr
Restorative Justice is a proven practice that empowers victims (survivors of crime) to receive the direct accountability they deserve from those responsible for harming them. Research has shown that Restorative Justice reduces recidivism rates (15-30%) and increases victim satisfaction (80-85%) in the process more effectively than simply punishing and imprisoning. This makes our communities as a whole safer and is much less costly than incarceration.
Restorative Justice can take many forms, but it is always up to the victim to decide whether and how to engage in it. Once a victim chooses Restorative Justice then preparation, with the help of experienced practitioners, occurs for both victim and offender. Surrogates, clinical care professionals, community and family members who have also been affected by the crime can also be involved in the process. If the victim chooses a face-to-face meeting with the offender an experienced practitioner facilitates a dialogue to ensure the victim is heard and the responsible party accounts for his or her actions. The ultimate goal of Restorative Justice is to allow victims to identify and address their needs, seek accountability from those who have harmed them and achieve resolution that will foster reparation, reintegration and safer communities.
I am committed to supporting victims beyond the trial or guilty plea. I plan to shift the necessary resources to establish an effective Restorative Justice program in Albany County.
It will include:
- Violence intervention curriculum for offenders;
- Professional support of clinical care workers on staff for victims;
- Experienced Restorative Justice facilitators to ensure productive dialogue; and
- Partnership with existing community-based violence intervention actors.
Victims of crime deserve more, and offenders can be held more directly accountable. This approach is proven to be more helpful to survivors of crime, reduce recidivism and mass incarceration and saves money. Restorative Justice will be available to crime survivors who choose to engage in it.
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