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Restorative Justice

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What Is Criminal Punishment?

Criminal punishment is defined as a wide range of sentences an individual could face. The sentence for being convicted of a crime ranges from incarceration to fines, or a combination. The type of criminal sentence depends on the severity of the crime. However, more jurisdictions are choosing restorative justice rather than a traditional crime and punishment approach. In addition to the criminal court, restorative justice may be administered by comprehensive victim service programs and community advisory boards.

What Is Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice is an alternative to sentencing someone to jail or prison for committing a crime. Instead, the criminal justice system would focus on:

  • The offender paying restitution
  • The offender doing community service to pay their debt to society
  • The offender apologizing for committing the crime
  • Victim-offender meetings

What Is a Victim-Offender Meeting?

A victim-offender meeting is commonly referred to as victim mediation. It involves a face-to-face meeting between an offender and their victim. A mediator oversees the meeting. The goal of the process is to personalize the criminal incident and encourage dialogue between the two parties. The offender and victim may discuss other things beyond the crime itself such as compensating the victim. After the meeting, a written resolution is handed over to the court and becomes a formal court order.

Are Lawyers Needed in a Victim Mediation?

It depends on the circumstances. Lawyers are not required to be present during this meeting, but they can offer valuable legal advice or counsel prior to or following the meeting. It would be helpful to discuss the situation with a lawyer beforehand if there is a chance that victim compensation or other form of restorative justice may be discussed during the mediation.

What Is the Goal of Restorative Justice?

The goal of this type of justice system is to repair the harm done by the offender who committed the crime. The type of crime does not matter. It could include serious or extremely violent criminal acts.

Should I Contact a Lawyer Regarding Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice is much more complex than other forms of criminal punishment, such as a simple fine or prison sentence. To understand more about restorative justice and how it affects victims and offenders, contact a criminal lawyer.

Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 11-10-2015 10:16 AM PST

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