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A Program To Reduce Offending And Re-Offending Juveniles

One of the biggest problems that is faced by the court system is recidivism. Recidivism refers to the rate of offenders who are repeat offenders. Restorative justice, which promotes restitution rather than sentencing, has been honored by some as the solution to our overcrowded prison system. Unfortunately, it is not because it removes consequences for the offender, increases repeat offenses, and envenoms many individuals so they commit additional crimes that may be of similar or different nature. A restorative justice program should be a part of ones’ sentencing when a crime has been committed, this way there is justice served by the offender as well as closure for the individuals affected by the crime.

Restorative justice is not only beneficial in providing more room in overcrowded prisons, but it offers a viable approach to justice, which focuses on the needs of the offenders, the victims, and the community. In all forms of restorative justice, the victims are active members in the process while the offenders take responsibility for their actions through apologies and acceptance of what they did. They communicate that they understand what they did was wrong and they try to repair the harm whether through apologizing to the victim, returning stolen goods, or compensating with money or time through community service.

The focus of restorative justice programs is to take those who committed less serious crimes, particularly ones which did not involve domestic violence or sexual assault, and involving both parties in a restorative process which focuses on personal needs instead of victimizing the victim yet again. By recognizing the offense committed and taking responsibility, facing the victim and repairing the damage, these programs theoretically reduce recidivism rates as the offender will realize that they committed a crime against a person or a community, not just against the state—or an unknown figure.

By engaging in restorative justice programs, victims and offenders talk face-to-face so that the victim can assume satisfaction in the accountability of the offender. This method limits the crimes which can use restorative justice programs to primarily non-violent crimes, as violent offenders are at risk when they face the victim, particularly those who committed serious violent crimes.

In order for restorative justice programs to work, they must result in the victim feeling safe again, and healing must take place between the offender and the victim. The offender must also recognize the effects of their actions on a person or community and assume responsibility, thus lowering the rate of recidivism. In terms of the allowed traditional crimes, restorative justice programs ask who was victimized, what their needs are, and who is obligated to meet those needs.

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