Restorative Justice

… a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in an offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs and obligations, in order to heal and put things right as possible.
— Howard Zehr, PhD, The Little Book of Restorative Justice, 2002

We bring together people affected by crime to address the wrongdoing with the help of a skilled facilitator. Victims, offenders, and local communities may come together once or many times. Parties discuss how the wrongdoing affected them, how to restore trust and a sense of safety, and how to right the wrong.

Restorative Justice (RJ):

  • looks beyond broken laws at deeper harms of wrongdoing
  • works to empower victims and attend to their personal needs
  • encourages offenders to understand, accept and carry out their obligations to the victims
  • facilitates dialogue, (direct or indirect), between the victim and the offender
  • involves the affected community or neighborhood to the process and empowers it to respond to sources of crime

Fairfield Center’s Restorative Justice Initiatives endeavor to implement new restorative practices and maintain existing RJ programs in the Shenandoah Valley. We develop models for peaceful processes and outcomes in cases of wrongdoing in our community.

The idea of Restorative Justice grew out of an experiment by an Indiana judge in the 1970s. He sent a man who had broken into homes to visit each of his victims, to apologize. That creative approach to a crime developed into an international movement. Restorative Justice is now practiced in Canada, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Professor Howard Zehr, long considered the grandfather of Restorative Justice in the United States, teaches here in Harrisonburg at Eastern Mennonite University Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. The values of democracy, inclusion, reparation, responsibility, safety, healing, and respect guide the implementation of Restorative Justice.

Words We Use

Restorative: healing, strengthening
Justice: action guided by truth, reason and fairness
Victim: person who was injured by another person, physically or otherwise
Offender: person who injured another person, physically or otherwise
Empower: to give authority to decide a just response to the wrongdoing by providing a forum with appropriate support
Mediated: conducted with a mediator to assist with communication and understanding
Dialogue: communication, either in person or in writing