Varieties of Restorative Justice Practices

Published in March 1998 in The National Institute of Justice Journal, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice

Victim impact statements provide an opportunity for victims to express their concerns to the prosecutors and the court.

Victim impact panels give victims an opportunity to confront groups of offenders -- not necessarily the ones who committed their crimes -- and to talk about the anger and hurt caused by the crime.

Family group conferences are an indigenous Maori approach recently being adapted to the majority culture in some areas of New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. These group victim-offender mediations include family members of both victims and offenders.[1]

Sentencing circles are an American and Canadian Indian approach that is being revived. They involve a wide array of interested parties, including those closest to the victim and offender and others likely to affect their future. Saskatchewan is increasingly using sentencing circles.[2]

The Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) project, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and is in place in several sites,[3] calls for every sanction involving juveniles to include consideration of public safety, accountability to victim and community, and the development of competency by offenders.

Vermont uses citizen reparative boards to determine the nature and details of the conditions of probation for convicted offenders. Trained volunteers provide offenders with a clear understanding of the impact their crimes had on the community as well as an appropriate and relevant assignment to repair the damage.

Restorative justice sentencing plans are being developed in Winnipeg, Canada, as strategies that are individualized to the offender and victim and are cost-effective sanctions that help repair the harm.[4]


  1. McElrea, F.W.M., "Restorative Justice -- The New Zealand Youth Court: A Model for Development in Other Courts?" Journal of Judicial Administration 4(1994); and Immarigeon, Russ, "Family Conferences, Juvenile Offenders, and Accountability," The New York State Child Advocate 3(Fall 1994).
  2. Stuart, Barry, "Circle Sentencing -- Mediation and Consensus: Turning Swords into Ploughshares," Accord 14(1)(June 1995).
  3. Bazemore, Gordon, and Mark Umbreit, Balanced and Restorative Justice Program Summary, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, October 1994.
  4. The Restorative Resolutions Project in operation in Winnipeg, Canada, prepares client-specific plans based on restorative principles. See Galaway, Burt, and Gord Richardson, "Evaluation of the Restorative Resolutions Project of The John Howard Society of Manitoba, Final Report," Winnipeg, Canada: University of Manitoba, June 1995.
Date Created: December 6, 2007