The RJ City Case Study
TheRJ City Case Study
TheRestorative Justice Process
Therestorative justice process is a movement that acknowledges that whena crime is committed, it causes harm and injury to communities andpeople therefore, it insists that effective justice ensures thatthese injuries and harm caused are repaired and that parties involvedare allowed to participate in the process. This type of justiceprocess enables the suspect, victim, and other affected members ofthe community to respond to a particular crime in their area directly(Zehr, 2002). All these people involved, therefore, become central tothe process of criminal justice. Moreover, the legal and governmentalprofessionals get an opportunity to serve as restorative justicesystem facilitators.
Theaim of restorative criminal system is to ensure that the offender,victim, and community participate in the process fully, victimreparation, and finally accountability of the offender. According toBritto and Reimund (2013), the restorative process involves thevictim, offender, and the community, who meet face to face to addressnot only the physical and material harm brought about by a crime, butalso the relational, psychological, and social injuries caused by acriminal (RJ City, 2009).
Zehr(2002) suggest that during the process of restoration, a party mightdecide not to participate in the face to face meeting. However, theyare advised to use other approaches that can also lead to aneffective restorative outcome that repairs the harm caused. Suchapproaches take two dimensions, which are offender accountability,and offender and victim reintegration (Zehr, 2002). In the processof addressing the accountability of the offender, such approacheslike community service, restitution, or reparative charges areincluded. In the restoration of the offender and the victim, variousapproaches are used like spiritual, material, emotional assistance,and support.
Ina case study that was conducted in RJ city, David and Ed committed acrime by breaking into the house that belonged to Mildred and stoleher things (RJ City, 2009). Not only did this criminal behavioraffect Mildred, but also it affected other members of the communityincluding her daughter. First, the experience was horrific to Mildredto a point of her feeling not secure to stay at her home. She went tostay with her daughter. At that time, Betty and her husband were busytaking care of their kids, which meant that her mother was an extraburden to them because they had to make several trips across town (RJCity, 2009). David’s parents were worried too about their son’ssudden change of behavior. Barbara who was one of the new neighborsreported to the circle that was addressing David’s case that theneighbors were worried about the safety of their homes especiallyduring the days they were not in (RJ City, 2009), they wanted the RJCity officials to improve on safety measures. Therefore, this crimethat involved David and Ed affected their parents, Mildred, Mildred’sdaughter, and the community at large. Children were affected too asBarbara narrated how her young son was worried that the bad peoplewould come and steal her toys.
Aswe can see from the RJ case study, the restorative justice system isvery different from what we are used to, the contemporary criminaljustice process. When Mildred returned home and found that her househad been broken into, she called 911 and Officer Randy came over.While they were in the house, the victim support coordinator in RJCity arrived and gave Betty and Mildred a booklet that informed themhow the matter was to be resolved through restorative justice (RJCity, 2009). According to the provisions of that booklet, restorativejustice process defines criminal behaviors in a comprehensive mannerrather than seeing and describing criminal acts as breaking of thelaw. Those provisions reflected that restorative justice realizesthat whenever a criminal act is committed, not only the victims areinjured, but also themselves, and the community at large. Anotherdifference between these two justice systems is that restorativejustice process involves more people including the victim and thecommunity, who respond to a criminal behavior, while contemporaryjustice process gives important roles to the offender and thegovernment only. For example, in the case of David who accepted therobbery and later accepted to “help make things right” (RJ City,2009), was involved in a circle that helped in responding addressingto his criminal act. Another difference between the two is that theymeasure success in very different way. Restorative justice processmeasures success through how much a psychological, material,relational, and social injury or harm is prevented or repaired whilecontemporary justice process measures its success on how muchpunishment is inflicted (Britto et al., 2013). Like for the case ofDavid and Ed, they apologized to Mildred and agreed to payrestitution for half of the value of the property that they stole (RJCity, 2009).
Accordingto Zehr (2002), the restorative justice process offers some benefitsto the offenders, the victim, and the community. Like in this case,David secured a job at a batting cage, his parents joined a coursethat helped them to communicate with him, thus, improving hisrelationship with him, his baseball team coach accepted him back, andlater he joined RJ city community College where he coached littleleague. For Ed, he was assigned at a closed workshop where headvanced his experience on carpentry. For Mildred, her fear wasreduced after she met face to face in a circle with David, she becameless dependent and depressed, and had an opportunity to care forBarbara son, and she loved it. The neighborhood also benefited fromthe restorative justice process as they were able to meet and knoweach other, and watched over each other. When Mildred went to anursing home, some of the neighbors could visit her regularly, whichmeans that the relationship between neighbors improved after therestorative justice process.
Britto,S., & Reimund, M. (2013). Making space for restorative justice incriminal justice and criminology curricula and courses.ContemporaryJustice Review,26(1)150-170.
RJCity. (rev. 2009, October). When Ed and David broke into Mildred’shouse and took things. RJCityCaseStudy.Retrieved from Case_Study_30-10-09.pdf
Zehr,H. (2002). Thelittle book of restorative justice: A bestselling book by one of thefounders of the movement.USA: Good Books.