Criminal Justice 2008

What is restorative justice?

Partners and Sponsors:

          With financial support from the Criminal Justice Programme of the European Commission, Directorate General Justice, Freedom and Security

The MEREPS Project's translating partner is the Afford Translations and Interpreting Ltd.

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Responsibility is a word frequently used, and a goal rarely achieved by criminal justice systems. Criminal justice systems let offenders stay passive. Criminal procedures don’t make offenders face the real consequences of their acts. Their victims are witnesses, the personal stories are never told. The traditional criminal justice systems focus only on passive responsibility (one being held accountable for one’s actions), but more often than not fail to achieve active responsibility (one taking responsibility for one’s actions).
In restorative justice, the balance among the interests of victim, offender and society is extremely important. Said balance can not be achieved without the offender taking responsibility for the crime. While responsibility in the restorative sense means active responsibility, restorative justice theory and practice must retain some sense of and use for passive responsibility. Passive responsibility in restorative justice works both as a precondition and as a backstop when active responsibility is not proffered.

One of the MEREPS Project’s main goals is to search for ways in which offenders can actively take responsibility for the crimes they have committed. MEREPS seeks, furthermore, the ways in which communities and the society can be empowered to take responsibility in successfully reintegrating its wrong-doers. In other words, our aim is to raise active responsibility among those, whom already have unavoidably met with passive responsibility in order to start a beneficial process. A process, which at the end, will benefit all members of the victim-offender-society triangle.