What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative processes bring those harmed by crime or conflict, and those responsible for the harm, into communication, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.
In criminal justice, restorative processes give victims the chance to tell offenders the real impact of their crime, to get answers to their questions, and an apology. Restorative justice holds offenders to account for what they have done, helps them understand the real impact of what they’ve done, to take responsibility and make amends.
So, What is a Restorative Justice Conference?
A restorative Justice conference gives you a chance to understand how what you have done affects others and a chance to make up for it. It also gives the harmed person a chance to get answers to their questions and tell you how they have been affected.
What’s in it for me?!
You will meet the person who has been harmed by your offence and have the opportunity to explain what happened and what you were thinking at that time. You may feel you want to say sorry for what happened and this will help you not to keep feeling guilty or ashamed of what you have done. It will give you an understanding of how your offending can affect someone and hopefully make you think twice before doing it again.
It will help them to see that you are not a bad person and understand something about why you have behaved in this way. They may choose to forgive you. This can help you to feel better about yourself.
Before a conference…
You will meet with the person (facilitator) leading it. You will be offered the choice to bring a ‘supporter’ with you—this could be a parent, carer or relative. The facilitator will explain everything to you and answer any questions you have. This is called ‘The Prep’.
How long and where?
The conference will last for as long as necessary, they normally take 1 –2 hours.
The venue is carefully chosen after the facilitator has met with everyone involved. The venue is normally somewhere quiet and neutral, like a youth or community centre.
Are there any Rules?
The facilitator makes sure everyone follows rules during the conference so things are kept safe and everyone is treated fairly and with respect:
- No abusive or threatening language
- All information shared is kept confidential
- Everyone gets an opportunity to have their say—so take your turn to talk.
- The facilitator will ask you to talk about what happened leading up to the offence, about the offence and what your thoughts were at the time and since then. You will be asked who you think has been affected.
- The victim will be asked what happened and how they and others have been affected. Supporters will have a chance to say how they have been affected too.
- This is where we look at how to try to put things right.
Some people just want the opportunity to talk but sometimes an agreement might be made between you and the person harmed. This might be a written apology or that you agree to do a practical job for the harmed person or community,
The facilitator writes up the agreement between you and the person harmed which you will all sign. You will be given a copy of the agreement.
Conferences are informal and refreshments may be served at the end.
The facilitator will follow up anything on the agreement, to make sure it happens.
If you would like to take part in a Restorative Justice Conference, you can speak to your Case Manager or contact the Restorative Justice Advisor at West Sussex Youth Offending Service.
Tel: 01903 839920
Restorative Justice Officer