Background of the Restorative Justice Notebook

This page is archived material and is no longer updated. It may contain outdated information and broken links. The material presented on these pages is the product of five regional symposia held on restorative justice between June 1997 and January 1998.

Restorative justice has been finding a receptive audience, as it creates common ground which accommodates the goals of many constituencies and provides a collective focus.

The United States Department of Justice recognizes this nation-wide trend. In a speech in spring of 1996, Attorney General Janet Reno expressed her concern that many Americans feel alienated from a justice system that has become too bureaucratic and detached. She outlined her vision of community justice, a concept that builds on the problem-solving approach of community policing and creates strong linkages between the police, courts, prosecutors, and corrections systems and the communities they serve. She charged the Office of Justice Programs to explore innovative, community-based programs that will improve the justice system and better serve victims.

In response to this charge, the Office of Justice Programs, specifically the National Institute of Justice, Office for Victims of CrimeOffice of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and Bureau of Justice Assistance, worked with the National Institute of Corrections to host a national conversation on restorative justice. Over 100 practitioners, victims, and researchers from across the U.S. and Canada met to discuss the concept, promise, and limits of the emerging philosophy of restorative justice. This two-day event whetted the appetites of participants and resulted in the need for more conversation.

Between June 1997 and January 1998, the Office of Justice Programs replicated the national symposia in five locations across the country—Burlington, Vermont; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Portland, Oregon; and Austin, Texas. Multi-disciplinary teams attended each workshop and shared their experiences with restorative justice. From this “cross country tour” the Department learned that there is a lot of interest and activity around the principles of restorative justice at the state and local level. We also learned that there is a dramatic need for information on restorative justice. In response to this need, the Office of Justice Programs compiled a resource notebook filled with articles, perspectives, descriptions, and examples of restorative justice as practiced. This is the on-line version of that resource notebook.

While this site notebook was most specifically intended for participants of those 1997-1998 symposia, this on-line version broadly communicates the principles and practices of restorative justice. We hope that the material compiled herein is helpful to those researchers, practitioners, policymakers and students hoping to learn more about the principles and practices of restorative justice in your communities.

Date Created: November 26, 2007