Santa Barbara


About Restorative Practices

The Restorative Community Network distinguishes between the terms Restorative Practices, Restorative Justice, Restorative Approaches, and School Based Restorative Approaches. In separating these terms, the purpose is not to valuate processes or terms.  Rather, the RCN aims to offer a consistent terminology to create a unified framework of understanding. 

Agreeing with International Institute for Restorative Practices (Wachtel, 2013), The RCN views Restorative Justice and Restorative Approaches as subsets of Restorative Practices and School Based Restorative Approaches as a subset of Restorative Approaches.  Restorative Practice is a paradigm that shifts the traditional view of justice from the traditional judicial process of punitive and isolative to transformative and healing.  Understanding that crime is a violation of people and relationships, Restorative Practices create obligations to ‘make things right’ or healing the relationships damaged by crime or harm, emphasizing the redress of injustice by means of understanding, compassion, and mutual resolution.  Restorative Practices also looks at the root causes of crime and community harm including community relationships and implicit biases. 

Restorative Justice is reactive, consisting of formal and informal responses to crime and other wrongdoing after it occurs. 
Restorative Approaches includes the use of formal and informal process that proceed wrongdoing, those that proactively build relationships, and a sense of community to prevent conflict and wrongdoing.  And School Based Restorative Approaches take place in the Educational setting.

While the traditional judicial system focuses on the offender and the State (court), Restorative Practices involve victims, offenders, and community in a search of solutions and promotes repair, reconciliation, and reassurance.  Instead of focusing on the weaknesses or deficits of offenders and victims, Restorative Practices attempts to draw upon the strengths of individuals and their capacity to openly address the need to repair harm. Restorative Practices denounces criminal behavior yet emphasizes the need to treat offenders with respect and to reintegrate them into the larger community in ways that can lead to inclusive behavior.

While Restorative Justice is defined by its 4 components, the flexibility of Restorative Practices allows for its use in prevention.  Research demonstrates that crime is directly correlated to a sense of disenfranchisement and/or lack of connection with one’s community.  Therefore, using restorative practices as a means to strengthen community relationships is becoming increasingly recognized as a prevention tool.   

Restorative Practices is a movement making inroads into a range of fields outside of the criminal justice system with a large emphasis on community involvement. Type your paragraph here.