Restorative Justice Week (or RJ Week) starts every third Sunday of November, from November 17 to 23 this year, to honor and propagate the ethos of justice based on the restoration of human connection. Restorative Justice is an alternative to incarceration or statutory punishment for crime, and it is about finding a way to establish communication between the offender and the victim. For offenders, the restorative justice program offers an opportunity to take responsibility for the harm they have caused. For the victims, it aims to reduce the feeling of anger and powerlessness. The eight days are dedicated to uplifting stories, meaningful suggestions, and advocating for legislation that views crime as an outcome of a failed society rather than the action of a flawed individual.
History of Restorative Justice Week
The propagation of restorative justice has been around since the ’70s when the prison chaplains of England launched a ‘Prisoner’s Sunday’ for the incarcerated people. Several countries adopted the idea, and it was later transformed to ‘Prisoner’s Week.’ To this day, National Prison Week and International RJ Week are celebrated in collaboration.
In 1996, Canada adopted Restorative Justice Week to honor the benefits of justice based on restoration. For centuries, the basic rule of retributive justice has carried on without criticism, yet it has failed to deliver us a safer, crime-free community. This alternative focuses on the human condition and our desire to heal through the repentance of those who have wronged us. Restorative Justice offers a pathway to healing. Professor John Braithwaite defines it as “the idea that because crime hurts, justice should heal.”
RJ Week raises awareness for the activists and organizations working for restorative justice, criminal justice legislation, and penal mediation. The holiday promotes the expansion of research for innovative practices, pushing for policies that support it, and providing a forum for discussions in good faith between the supporters and the adversaries of this alternative form of justice. During the week, Canadian public servants, Aboriginal restorative justice practitioners, scholars, and restorative justice professionals hold a conference to share the developments made in the field.
Every RJ Week has a theme — ‘‘Inspiring Innovation,’’ “Family Matters,” “Communities Responding to Human Needs.” This RJ Week, honor and celebrate the advocates, supporters, educators, practitioners, and researchers for their tireless work in the field of restorative justice.
Restorative Justice Week timeline
Psychologist Albert Eglash initiates the modern usage of the phrase ‘Restorative Justice’ to describe three forms of justice.
American criminologist Howard Zehr articulates the theory of restorative justice in his groundbreaking book “Changing Lenses.”
The Government of Canada adopts Restorative Justice Week, and the movement gains ground at the European forum.
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopts a recommendation to recognize the potential benefits of restorative justice.
Restorative Justice Week FAQs
Is restorative justice about forgiving the criminals?
Restoring justice is about the offender taking responsibility for their actions. Although forgiveness is the ideal pathway, it is not the primary objective of the process, and it is certainly not demanded from the victim.
Is restorative justice based on The Bible?
There are deep connections between the principles of restorative justice and the teachings of the Bible. However, modern-day restorative justice programs are based on evidence-based crime reduction research through personal intervention and not on any religion.
Can restorative justice be done through monetary exchange?
Actions like compensation, payment of money to the victim from the offender, and other monetary amends are a part of restorative justice programs. However, the mediation must be between the victim and the offender, not between the offender and the state.
How To Observe Restorative Justice Week
Organize an event to promote restorative justice
Plan an event to acquaint people with the benefits of restorative justice. Invite your neighbors, friends, and family, and share the strides made in this field. You never know how many restorations you can inspire.
Share resources about restorative justice
There are tons of reading materials, case studies, annotated bibliography, and correctional meeting records to be shared with the public. The third week of November is a great chance to do just that.
Resolve an old grudge
It’s time to make amends with the estranged people in your life. Communication heals communities. Following the principles of restorative justice must begin at home, with the people in your life.
5 Facts About Prisons That’ll Make You Sit Up Straight
It’s expensive to be a criminal
The prison system’s annual bill to the U.S. Government is $81 billion.
There is a criminal on the block
In 2015, 1 in 115 American adults was incarcerated.
Feminism takes a stride
Since 2000, the female prison population of the U.S. has increased by 50%.
It’s a funeral every day
12 people die in the United States Prison System every day, and the top cause of death is suicide.
Despite it all, it’s still crime o’clock
Several studies have concluded that serving a prison sentence has no preventive effect on a person’s propensity to commit violent crimes.
Why Restorative Justice Week is Important
The justice system deserves a reckoning
Some of the best criminal justice systems in the world have failed to reduce crime or minimize the loss of life. It’s time to look beyond the metal bars and orange jumpsuits for alternative methods of justice.
‘All’ lives matter
Restorative Justice Week calls for a broader introspection into the way we carry out justice. The traditional form of justice focuses on judging a human being based on the worst moment of their lives. In contrast, restorative justice focuses on a life that continues after the crime.
Crime hurts; justice should heal
When the loss suffered by a victim is earmarked into the pages of court documents, it serves them no good. Likewise, punitive measures isolate a criminal from society and take away the resources required for repentance. Restorative justice is an alternative where victims can seek healing through direct engagement with their offenders.
Restorative Justice Week dates