[Under Construction: 2014-09-03]

Forms of justice from a social worker’s point of view: There are multiple definitions social workers use for restorative justice. But in general, restorative justice is a response to crime that differs from the criminal justice system’s response to crime in the following ways:

Criminal Justice Restorative Justice
Crime is a violation of the law and of the state Crime is a violation of people and relationships
Violations create guilt Violations create obligations
Justice requires the state to determine blame (guilt) and impose pain (punishment) Justice involves victims, offenders, and community members in an effort to put things right
Central Focus: Offenders get what they deserve Central Focus: Victim needs and offender responsibility for repairing harm
Questions Questions
What laws have been broken? Who has been hurt?
Who did it? What are their needs?
What do they deserve? Whose obligations are these?

See “Social Work & Restorative Justice” 2011, Beck, Kropf, Leonard – Table 3.1

This site addresses restorative justice not as a social worker’s offender/victim process in response to crime but as a broader Judeo-Christian concept.

 Transformative Restorative Justice

Transformative restorative justice concept as found in the social work literature is suggested by this author to have parallels to the concept of shalom (a Hebrew word of greeting and blessing), with the fullest expression of shalom resulting in a community of peace and safety sustained by the kind of life-giving justice originally intended by God.

Restorative justice in the social work research literature is conceived of as having gotten started in the late 1970’s and is now a fast growing field of study and practice. However, from the vantage point of faith traditions of the world, transformative restorative justice is not a new concept. It is, in fact, a concept with ancient roots that express the original intent for living and “doing justice” in human communities–justice at its heart is a relational term.

The social work term transformative restorative justice is found in the literature (Beck, et al, quoting from “Handbook of Restorative Justice“, Sullivan and Tift (2008), as well as  a Michael Hadley quote; “[R]estorative justice is at its root a deeply spiritual process of transformation,” also from “Handbook…”). It is usually mentioned in connection with the need to extend restorative justice beyond the criminal justice system to include the whole range of human social wellbeing.

Justice with its roots in spirituality is what we desire to focus on at this web site, and is referred to here as transformational justice.

The reconciliation process group (rpg) approach

Through the rpg approach to healing relational trauma we aspire to make a contribution to transformational reconciliation: a reconciliation ideal that not only heals but also helps us to be our “best self” living in a truly “just society”. We believe that criminal justice and/or restorative justice must draw upon a peoples’ spiritual resources and faith traditions in order for the “doing of justice” to be transformational.

Other Websites and Articles:

Restorative Justice Online
Prison Fellowship International
Historical trauma as public narrative: A conceptual review of how history impacts present-day health
(others pending)