Restorative Justice Program

"Restorative justice requires, at minimum, that we address victims' harms and needs, hold offenders accountable to put right those harms, and involve victims, offenders, and communities in this process."
Howard Zehr

The Restorative Justice Program brings together the victims and juvenile offenders of crimes in a process that addresses the needs of victims and allows offenders the opportunity to make amends for their mistakes, thereby reducing recidivism rates and enhancing public safety.

Restorative justice is based on an old, common sense understanding of wrongdoing.

• Crime is a violation of people and of interpersonal relationships.
• Violations create obligations.
• The central obligation is to put right the wrongs.

Since 1992 CDR has contracted with the Lane County Department of Youth Services to handle cases where both the offender and the victim might be better served in an alternative process rather than going to court. These cases have involved a variety of offenses including vandalism, harassment, burglary, theft and assault among others.

Through the mediation process, the victim and offender meet, communicate, and formalize an agreement regarding actions the offender will take to make things right. CDR follows up by tracking compliance with the agreement. Participants come from all demographic and income groups. Target age for youth offenders is age 12-17.

The program's success and its effectiveness as a crime-prevention effort are clearly demonstrated by the fact that young defendants who participate in the program are less likely to commit new crimes than those who do not.

Three foundational ideas of restorative justice are:

• Restorative justice focuses on harm.
• Wrongs or harms result in obligations.
• Restorative justice promotes engagement or participation.

The "How" and the "Who" are important.
Restorative justice prefers inclusive, collaborative processes and consensual outcomes (ones that are mutually agreed upon rather than imposed).

Restorative justice seeks to involve victims, offenders, and communities of care (which include family members, support people, and community members trained in restorative justice practices).

Restorative justice is a set of values and principles concerning what justice means to the community. It understands crime as a harm against persons, and it understands the resolution of crime as engaging victims, offenders and community members in voluntary justice processes that heal relationships and reintegrate people into the community. At minimum, restorative justice addresses the needs of victims and seeks to hold offenders accountable to make things as right as possible to victims and the community.

Restorative models for resolving crime show that the 'how' of a process is important. Not only are parties who are most directly involved in a crime engaged in listening and dialogue processes, but these processes are collaborative, consensual, and non-coercive. This allows for a trust-building dynamic that fosters open communication, apology and a resolve to make or receive amends. 

In this context, accountability is understood as something an offender gives rather than takes. It becomes more meaningful in that the accountability is based on the learning and reparation that revolves around actual harms and losses to other people. Accountability is about taking positive responsibility for making things right.

The role of the community is significant in supporting this kind of reparation process.

 If you have questions about opening a case or would like to know more about Restorative Justice, please contact the Program Manager, Chris Jackson, at (541) 344-5366 or email her at: chris@lanecdr.org.

 



 




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