Restorative justice is a way to help right a wrong and heal the harm caused by a crime.
It focuses on understanding the hurt experienced by the victim, while holding the offender accountable for what they have done.
In the Wairarapa, the restorative justice service is run as a partnership between Family Works Wairarapa and Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi out of the Masterton District Court
How does Restorative Justice (RJ) work?
Restorative justice involves the victim and the offender meeting and, with the assistance of the restorative justice facilitators, acknowledging the harm caused and talking about how it might be put right.
The intention is to help restore the balance by giving the victim(s) a voice and letting the offender hear directly how their actions have impacted on other people.
Restorative justice cases vary depending on the individual circumstances. It is a completely voluntary process. But usually, it works like this:
- Part one: Once an offender has pleaded guilty, the judge may recommend a restorative justice conference.
- Step two: If both the victim and the offender are willing to participate, Family Works restorative justice facilitators will first meet separately with each party for a pre-conference assessment. This meeting is held to work out whether restorative justice is right for the situation.
- Part three: The Family Works Restorative Justice facilitators will decide whether a RJ Conference should proceed. They’ll consider whether both parties remain willing to be involved, if everyone involved will be safe and supported a and whether there is likely to be a positive outcome
- Part four: Family Works Central’s professional facilitators manage each restorative justice conference. The facilitators make sure the conversation stays on track and that everyone is safe and supported. During the meeting both the victim and the offender are given an opportunity to talk, to tell their stories and to acknowledge the offence. The victim can explain their experiences and how the crime has affected them. The offender can apologise and accept responsibility for the harm caused. The parties may also work towards an agreement for how the offender will put things right.
- Part five: After the restorative justice conference, the Family Works’ facilitators will write a report to explain what happened during the meeting and outline any agreements made.
The victim, the offender (or the offender’s lawyer), the judge and others involved in the case, such as the police or probation offcer, will all get a copy of the report before the offender is sentenced. During the offender’s sentencing, the judge will decide whether to include any of the agreements made at the restorative justice conference as part of
Family Works currently offered Restorative Justice Conferences in the Wairarapa. If you’re interested in taking part, or you have a client or loved one who may benefit, call us on 0800 FAM WORKS to talk to one of our friendly team.
Read more about making a referral to Family Works.