Restorative Justice

Florence Driedger
Regina, Saskatchewan
April 2010

Restorative justice is an approach to justice where offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, "to repair the harm they've done” and build healthy relationships which leads to reintegration into a community. It moves the focus of seeing crime as one committed against the state to one in which the crime is harmful to individuals, families and community.  Its goal is not one of punishment, but of restoration of relationship for the victim, the offender and the community.  

It recognizes the offender who often has been a victim whose victimization has led to isolation, anger, and alienation from family and community.  And it recognizes and gives voice to the victim who has been omitted in the current justice system leading to harboring anger, vengence and a sense of alienation by the whole process of seeking justice.

It recognizes crime does harm to community as well,  and often grows out of a fractured community where there is lack of trust, lack of mutuality, lack of knowing and having concerns for ones “neighbor”.   

Not only does restorative justice seek to encourage the offender to take responsibility for the harm caused, but also seeks to find healing for the victim and the community to take responsibility for their part in the wellbeing of all in community.

As the Mennonite community, we are blessed with an understanding and long tradition of discipleship, peace, service and community.  Person to Person, Victim Offender Mediation, Circles of Support and Accountability, Changing Lenses in how we view crime, are all based on restorative justice concepts and principles.  These often have been pioneered by the Anabaptist community.  Although there is a long history in many religions and communities of some aspects of our current understandings of restorative justice,  there is now a reviving interest in restorative justice in many communities, regions, and countries often begun or led by Mennonites.

As women and mothers, we can be models in restorative justice in how we love, care and teach our children, how we assist them to take responsibility, how we live the gospel of love for our families, the stranger, our enemies and ourselves.  Jesus called us friends.  He leveled relationships.  He saw the value of each and every one of us.  He asked us to love all.  Restorative justice is based on these core values.  

There are many opportunities to volunteer in the programs and services in which restorative practice is basic to the service.  Mennonite Central Committee and faith groups often are looking for volunteers to become friends, to visit, to love and restore to community the alienated, forgotten or strangers.  Often it is in these loving acts, the victim or the offender finds support to turn their life around.  It is a most rewarding service.  I am often humbled by the love shown to me by those who I often misjudge as having little to offer.  As I love I am loved in return. 

For more information you can search Restorative justice through one of the internet search sites, or