Essay on Restorative Justice for Crime Victims !
Gone are the days when retributive and preventive theories of criminal justice were holding the field in dealing with crime and criminals. In recent decades, the rehabilitative approaches in penology have given rise to emergence of the concept of restorative justice.
It represents a paradigm shift in dispensation of criminal justice by involving the offender, the victim and the community as a whole, to ensure a balance between offender’s punishment and protection of victim’s rights. Compensatory relief to victim is the ‘key-feature’ of restorative justice system.
The concept of restorative justice is woven around four major themes, namely (1) Restoration (2) Accountability (3) Community Protection and (4) Skill development.
It implies help and support to victim of crime, whether the offender is apprehended and arrested or not. The victim is restored to normal life in society by community’s restorative efforts. Similar restoration of offender to community is also a part of restorative process wherein the offender is made to realise and acknowledge the harm or injury caused by him to the victim and show willingness to be accountable for his wrongful action and redress the harm or sufferings of the victim.
Thus, restorative justice lays equal importance on the rehabilitation of both victim and the offender and makes offender to realise the consequences of his offence on the victim and compensate the latter for the loss or injury caused due to crime.
The process of victim-offender mediation leads the offender to accept accountability for harmful consequences of his criminal act on the victim and he makes amends to the victim and also to the community. Accountability of the offender and acceptance of guilt by him, has a soothing effect on the victim which facilitates overcoming trauma and distress caused due to his victimization. It is a positive approach involving both, offender and the victim to understand each other.
(3) Community Protection:
Community surveillance provides best opportunities to the offender to rehabilitate and reform himself and channelise his energy into productive activities. For victim, community’s protection and assistance greatly helps in his return to normal life, forgetting the past (victimisation) and look for the bright future. It provides him moral strength to withstand the sufferings and consequences of his victimisation.
(4) Skill development:
Vocational training provides opportunities for the offender as also the victim to develop new skills which may help in his restoration and rehabilitation. Competency of development programmes constitutes a vital segment of the restorative justice system.