Restorative Justice

Kirby Trask is a Criminal Justice / Sociology professor at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, NY, and a board member of the Finger Lakes Restorative Justice Center located in Rochester
(see his bio link below).  He describes his years of implementing Restorative Justice within Genesee County, NY as an ongoing event of coordination between the parties involved.  He feels that it is a worthwhile and rewarding endeavor.  Here is an article that he wrote for a Rochester, Ny, newspaper.

Building jails will not put crime under lock and key

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle - January 22, 2008 - Kirby Trask - Guest Essayist

The number of Americans in prison reportedly has risen eightfold since 1970, with little impact on crime but at great cost to taxpayers and society. More than 2.25 million people are incarcerated in our jails, and state and federal prisons.
About 19 percent of these inmates are violent offenders. The rest primarily were involved in drug or property crimes. Most will come back to our communities, and most will reoffend. There is no evidence that keeping people in prison or jail longer makes society safer.
Taking a "restorative justice" approach is an essential step toward addressing these issues. Restorative justice is rooted in reconciliation and restitution rather than vengeful punishment. It is a philosophy inherent to the criminal justice programs at Roberts Wesleyan College. It's also central to other local organizations such as the Finger Lakes Restorative Justice Center in Rochester, and Genesee Justice Programs in Batavia (one of a few governmental agencies in the United States doing applied restorative justice work within a criminal justice system).
At issue is what society can do to address the harm done to victims. Victims have to rise above obstacles and resume as normal a life as possible.

Victims want to be heard. They want dignity and respect. They want to be made central to the justice process. They want the process to be humanized. But our current system tells the lawyer's story, not the victim's.
In the restorative justice system, the victim is the hub from which all the arms of the criminal justice system — police, courts and corrections — extend. Each arm needs to come back to the center and embrace the idea that crime is personal.
Currently, there is little to no focus on reintegrating criminals. Many aren't intellectually or emotionally mature. Their crimes are about "doing justice" or "undoing an injustice." If we continue to address this mindset by constantly closing the prison or jail doors on them, we perpetuate that cycle. Criminals need to be confronted with the consequences of what they did and be held accountable.
Under New Zealand's restorative justice system, when a violent crime takes place, law enforcement immediately sends trained volunteers to the scene to support the victims. For other crimes, family group conferences with the offenders take place (with the courts overseeing the process). These approaches have led to reduced incarceration rates, increased number of offenders who admit guilt, decreased costs and reduced recidivism rates.
Building more jails to address crime is like making more Band-Aids to heal injuries. We need more effective solutions like restorative justice practices.

Kirby Trask is an assistant professor of criminal justice at Roberts Wesleyan College, and advisory board member, Finger Lakes Restorative Justice Center.


What is Restorative Justice?     -  from the Finger Lakes Restorative Justice Center ( website

Definition of Restorative Justice
Restorative justice is an orientation rather than a program. This orientation views acts of wrongdoing as a violation of interpersonal and communal relationships. Such acts leave wounds on the person harmed, the person who caused the harm, and the community of which they are a part. Healing these wounds requires a process that:

1.Establishes a dialogue with those affected by a wrongdoing
2.Identifies how people have been wounded
3.Asks people to assume full accountability and responsibility for their actions
4.Invites people to re-assert control over their lives
5.Aims to make things right, as much as possible
6.Reinforces healthy interpersonal relationships

The Restorative Justice Process
A restorative justice process is defined as any procedure in which a person harmed, a person who caused the harm, and affected community members actively participate together in resolving an act of wrongdoing, usually with the assistance of a trained, impartial facilitator. There are a variety of practices that can achieve this objective. Finger Lakes Restorative Justice Center is committed to supporting all programs that operate under the guiding principles of Restorative Justice.

Guiding Principles of Restorative Justice
The justice process belongs to the community, not solely to professionals
Wrongdoing is a violation of people and interpersonal relationships
Violations create obligations and liabilities
A person harmed, a person who caused the harm, and the community of which they are a part have a need and right to be actively involved in resolving the matter



Click on the links below to gain a perspective of what RJ is all about.  You will notice that RJ is not limited only to use within the criminal justice system.  Schools are an excellent example of needing the philosophy and implementation of RJ.

Restorative justice - Wikipedia

Kirby Trask Bio

Finger Lakes Restorative Justice Center

Genesee Justice Genesee County, NY

Restorative Justice Online — Howard Zehr Bio

Restorative Justice - Online

Restorative Justice - Dr Tom Cavanagh

Case Study Brown.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Center for Restorative Justice - Bennington County

Community restorative justice, restorative discipline, restorative and governmental programs links in the US, Europe, International

FrankHill.pdf (application/pdf Object)

FSU - Community Corrections, Restorative Justice, Prisons and the Death Penalty : Florida State University College of Criminology & Criminal Justice

International Institute for Restorative Practices

New York State Dispute Resolution Association, Inc.

Restorative Justice |

another interesting link                
JUSTICE CHARTER | NYS Criminal Justice Reform

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