Restorative Justice is an approaching to justice that intent to involve the parties to a dispute and others affected by the harm (victims, offenders, families concerned and community members) in collectively identifying harms, needs and obligations through accepting responsibilities, making restitution, and taking measures to prevent a recurrence of the incident and boost reconciliation.
Restorative Justice sees crime as an act against the victim and changes the focus to repairing the harm that has been committed against the victim and community. It believes that the offender also needs assistance and try to identify what needs to change to prevent future re-offending.
Restorative Justice can be applicable at any point in the Criminal Justice System such as:-
- Pre-charge (before a charge is laid).
- Pre-trial (after a charge is laid and before accused appears in Court).
- Post-charge (after charge, but before plea in court).
- After conviction, but before sentence.
- Post-sentence (for parole and re-integration purposes).
Benefits of a restorative approach
- Preventing re-offending
- Empowering victims
- Benefiting criminal justice agencies
- Enhance community involvement in the dispute resolution process
Values and principles of Restorative Justice
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- Restorative Justice processes must obey with the rule of law, human rights principles, and the rights in the South African Constitution.
- Restorative Justice must boost the dignity of victims and offenders, and guarantee that there is no domination or discrimination.
- All parties must be provided with complete information as to the intention of the process, their rights within the process and the attainable outcomes of the process.
- Parties should clearly realize that they may withdraw from the process at any time.
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- Parties must be given some amount of time to think their options when a restorative justice option is planned.
- Referral to restorative justice processes is applicable at any level of the criminal justice system, with particular emphasis on pre-trial diversion, plea and sentence agreements, pre-sentence process, as part of the sentence, and part of the reintegration process, including parole.
- Involvement in restorative justice processes must be voluntary for all parties, including victims.
- Victims and offenders should be allowed to bring support persons to the encounter provided that this does not agree with the rights and safety of any other party.
- For more detailed information contact any lawyers in South Africa.