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The idea of restoration used to be a part of criminal justice systems for centuries. But since the state claimed monopoly over justice, the criminal justice systems focus primarily on punishing offenders for the crimes they committed. The victims are not a part of the equation. They are questioned as witnesses, and altough most criminal justice systems strive to achieve restoration as well, they have virtually no chance of to see even parts of their loss (material or symbolic) restored. Also, the restoration of the damage a community takes when a crime is committed, and the restoration of the offender into a law-abiding citizen is a result often desired, but rarely achieved in traditional criminal justice systems.
Restorative justice can help the criminal justice system to achieve the aforementioned goals. Restorative justice uses a different approach than the traditional criminal justice systems, and can be used in multiple roles from accesory to alternative. Restoration of the victim, restoration of the offender to a law-abiding life, restoration of the damage caused by crime to the community is a central concern of restorative justice. One of the main ideas of restorative justice is, that justice consists of a balanced approach, in which a single objective (like punishment) is not allowed to dominate the others.
The MEREPS Project aims to explore the opportunities for implementing mediation and restorative justice practices into the prison settings, also to test the potential of restorative justice in the most serious crimes that usually have a significant impact on both victims and offenders. Offering a chance for restoration in these cases is essential, because if the parties involved are willing, it can lead to groundbreaking improvments for all of them. MEREPS is about offering that chance of restoration.