The 5 R’s of Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice is a philosophy based on the belief that people can learn from their mistakes by addressing the harm and taking responsibility for their actions.

Restorative Justice is also a practice.  It provides methods for victims and offenders to have a dialogue about the situation that took place.  It gives the offender the opportunity to face her victim, apologize, and identify ways to address the harm she has caused.  It gives the victim the safe space to describe the ways he has been harmed and to give an opinion on what he would like to see take place to correct the harm.

There are 5 R’s Involved in this Process:


When a wrong occurs, individuals and communities feel violated. It is the damage to these relationships that is primarily important and is the central focus of what restorative practices seek to address

How: Through the willingness to be accountable for one’s actions and to make repair of harms done.


When: Every person is expected to show respect for others and for themselves.

How: Deep listening, that honors the importance of the other’s point of view. Our focus for listening is to understand other people so, even if we disagree with their thinking, we can be respectful and try hard to comprehend how it seems to them.


When: Each person needs to take responsibility for any harm they caused to another, admitting any wrong that was done, even if it was unintentional.

How: Taking responsibility also includes a willingness to give an explanation of the harmful behavior. Everyone needs to be willing to accept responsibility for his/her own behavior


When: harm has been done, by repairing the harm to the fullest extent possible, recognizing the harm may extend beyond anyone’s capacity for repair. It’s this principle that allows us to set aside thoughts of revenge and punishment.

How: After accepting responsibility for their behavior and hearing about how others are harmed by their actions, they are expected to make repair. It is through taking responsibility for one’s own behavior and making repair that persons may regain or strengthen their self-respect


When: Reintegration is realized when all persons have put the hurt behind them and move into a new role in the community.

How: The person having shown him/herself to be an honorable person through acceptance of responsibility and repair of harm has transformed the hurtful act. This reintegration process is the final step in achieving wholeness.

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