What is restorative justice?

Restorative justice is a philosophy that encourages constructive responses to harm. It brings the needs and voices of those who have harmed, those impacted, and the community into processes that repair harms and rebuild relationships. 

Restorative justice roots

The principles, practices and values of restorative justice date back centuries and are rooted in indigenous cultures throughout the globe. Many of these cultures are built on the understanding that all things are interconnected through relationships. When a harm or violation occurs, it breaks the connections and ripples out into the entire community. The first priority is the restoration of relationships amongst community members.

Restorative questions:

  • What happened?
  • What were you thinking at the time? 
  • What have you thought about since? 
  • Who has been affected? 
  • What can you do to make things right? 
  • What supports do you need?

Restorative justice values

  • Engagement: Involve those impacted, including the community, in processes to address needs and repair harms.
  • Responsibility: The person responsible for harm should be held meaningfully accountable. Needs based supports are given and appropriate responsibility is encouraged for the responsible person to address the needs of those impacted and repair harm as much as possible.
  • Restoration: Acknowledges and repairs the harm caused by, and revealed by, wrongdoing. Supports the reintegration and repair of relationships whenever possible.

What are some examples from the work you've done with Multnomah County youths so far? 

We start by getting to know our new juvenile participants. What is his or her history? What's already happening in the youth's life that's likely be helpful (or harmful) as he or she strives for change? Who are the people around this young person, and are there standout supports? 

Next, we help youths give voice to their personal passions. What kind of positive change are they most passionate about? Some youths may go to work planting trees in their community, while others might help make hot meals for the homeless.