Restorative Justice: Better justice for victims of crime?

To paraphrase Daniel van Ness (1983: 3), crime [on the one hand] unleashes a legal contest between the defendant and the state as prosecutor; on the other hand, it also is a personal encounter between the victim-person and the accused person.  Citing Silberman, Robert Elias (1986) points out that crime hurts individuals and groups of people but also threatens “social order”.  As crime violates people and relationships, Howard Zehr (1990: 181) says it “creates obligations to make things right.”

In this paper the principle question is whether restorative justice makes things right for victims of crime.  In other words, does restorative justice deliver a better justice for victims of crime?  It begins with one of the unresolved challenges – the assortment of different ways restorative justice is defined or described.  After Australia’s research findings are summarised.  Next this paper suggests ways to ensure victims’ access to restorative justice and to improve restorative justice in practice.

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