The American justice system has viewed criminal behavior as a crime against â€œthe state,â€ leaving crime victims with no input into the legal process of the administration of justice in todayâ€™s courts. Restorative justice today recognizes the act of crime as being directed against individual people. Restorative justice is based on resolving conflict and making everything connected to the crime â€œwhole againâ€, thus healing the effects, restoring back to original condition, and making amends to all affected by the crime.
Retributive justice focuses on punishment, whereas the new paradigm of Restorative justice accents accountability, healing and closure. This is accomplished through face-to-face contact between offender and victim. This relies on an old and widely used practice used today. Known as victim-offender mediation. Developing a restitution plan, allowing the offender to hear the total impact the act had upon the victim, and sometimes the community, allows the healing process to begin (Umbreit 1996).
Many Restorative justice programs recognize the need for an offender to admit his or her guilt before moving on in the process of restoration. .
Once, the guilt has been established, a Family Group Conference as part of the corrections process may refer the case hears the court. Offenders and victims meet with volunteer mediators to .
discuss what affect the crime had upon their lives, while expressing concerns and feelings directly to the offender. A restitution agreement is then worked out between the two parties involved.
Family group conferencing is based on the same rationale as victim-offender mediation. Only two differences apply. Conferencing often relies on police, probation, or social services for the organization and facilitation. Secondly, extended ranges of people are involved, friends, family, co-workers, teachers, and other supporters from the community that will take collective responsibility for the offender and for the completion of the agreement.