Restorative justice focuses on repairing harm and strengthening relationships.
Restorative justice offers a different way of responding to harm and conflict. Instead of relying on punishment as a response, restorative justice seeks to repair harm and prevent future harm by elevating the needs of those who have been harmed and inviting those who have caused harm into a process of active accountability. Acknowledging our interconnectedness, restorative justice invites all those who have been impacted by harm and their community into a process of seeking justice. Collectively, those who were impacted identify the wrong-doing and its impact, surface the underlying causes of harm, and determine a pathway forward.
Beyond the individuals directly impacted by conflict or harm, restorative justice asks each of us to reflect on our collective responsibility for creating conditions that enable and foster harm and tasks us with supporting accountability and creating safer communities. By widening who is responsible and who is capable, restorative justice harnesses the power and wisdom of the wider community.
At the Center, we use restorative practices in various settings: in the courts, (diverting criminal cases from the legal system), in schools (to build a positive culture and reduce incidents of harm), and in communities (to strengthen relationships, make decisions, or respond to harm). While working within a world of structural injustice and systemic oppression, restorative practices increase the opportunities for equalizing power amongst us. Regardless of the setting, restorative justice seeks to increase safety by fostering stronger and healthier relationships. This is a healing practice.
Restorative justice at the Center is influenced and inspired by indigenous traditions including peacemaking, circle, and conferencing.
Building on a traditional Native American approach to justice, the Center’s peacemaking programs focus on healing and community restoration rather than punishment.
Restorative Justice in Schools
We implemented restorative justice programs in five New York City high schools to strengthen relationships school-wide.
Restorative Justice and Intimate Partner Violence
We are reimagining the response to intimate partner violence through the lens of restorative justice.
Restorative Justice in the Courts
At the Center, we use restorative practices in various settings, including in the courts to divert criminal cases from the legal system.
Circles for Safe Streets, a pilot project of the Center for Court Innovation in partnership with Families for Safe Streets, provides a restorative justice response to vehicular crimes resulting in serious injury or death. The program builds on the Center’s work in both Driver Accountability and Restorative Justice, offering an avenue to support both victims and drivers.
“This job has really shown me our deep ability as human beings to be connected to one another.” Kellsie Sayers is the director of restorative practices where she oversees the design and implementation of restorative justice programming. Kellsie joined the Center for Court Innovation four years ago to lead the restorative justice in schools project, a four-year pilot looking at the impact of restorative practices on school culture.
This fact sheet summarizes the mission and impact of Manhattan Justice Opportunities, a program of the Center for Justice Innovation, that helps build safer communities and a fairer justice system by providing social services and supportive resources as effective alternatives to the traditional responses to crime, empowering people to make positive changes in their lives.
“We want to make real that people are more than the crash.” The New York Times profiles our Circles for Safe Streets program, which brings drivers face-to-face with the people they have harmed to do something all too rare in the criminal legal system: talk to each other. In this piece, hear from Hillary Packer—associate director of restorative practices at the Center—as well as people who have taken part in Circles for Safe Streets from both sides of a car crash.