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A restorative practice is an approach to addressing conflict in a manner which builds positive relationships and creates or restores a sense of community. In restorative interventions, offenders are tasked with reflecting about the impact of their actions and behaviours and they must accept responsibility for such actions and behaviours. Restorative practices are not restricted to the mainstream criminal justice system. It is practiced in all situations where an offending action has taken place. It helps to build the capacity of individuals to problem-solve, and maintain and restore relationships, without diminishing blame and dispensing punishment. Restorative practices are based on key questions: what has happened? Who has been affected? How can one involve everyone who has been affected in finding a way forward?Restorative practices pervades beyond just working with offenders within the criminal justice system. It is also common amongst other disciplines like education, social work, organisational management as well as daily life events. This practice informs the way ‘people interact with and address conflict’. Writers such as Wachtel and McCold indicate that this approach requires of offenders to delve into 50 their actions and thoughts, to consider the impact of their behaviour and actions on others and to engage with the victim in making amends. Wachtel and McCold also make reference to the Social Discipline Window, a useful framework which illustrates best practices by combining a high level of control of wrongdoing with a high level of support for all the people involved, to achieve a restorative outcome. Restorative practices promote dialogue, and is seen as a community building response to an offending behaviour. Developed over centuries but expanded upon in the 1970’s, the restorative approach promotes reconciliation amongst persons most affected by the offending behaviourRestorative justice is an approach to criminal justice which, ‘rejects punitive measures…and attempt to raise awareness among offenders of the effects of their actions”. From a restorative justice perspective, crime is seen as a violation of people and relationships. This approach creates obligations to make things right and is an attempt to address the limitations of the previous approaches. Restorative justice is not primarily about forgiveness, reconciliation and mediation, nor is it designed to reduce recidivism. This form of practice does not serve as a replacement for the legal system, but rather it creates an obligation to make things right. The support structures or pillars of the restorative justice approach rest in understanding the harm or impact on victims and communities.Restorative Justice refers to the approach to working with people in trouble with the law which focuses on restoring societal harmony. A restorative justice program uses a restorative process in order to achieve a desired restorative outcome which itself may be in the form of an agreement reached as a result of a restorative process. With the help of a facilitator, the restorative process of resolving matters arising from a crime involves the active participation of the victim, offender and where appropriate, any individuals affected by the offending behaviour. Hence restorative justice programs are designed around the ‘possibility of facilitated meetings between victims, offenders and possibly community members’.Restorative justice programmes are also essential in preparing the young person, the victim as well as the community for the young person’s reintegration into his home or community. These programmes may include the process of diversion, victim-offender mediation, family group conferences and community-based support groups. Restorative justice is a ‘theory of justice that emphasises repairing the harm caused or revealed by criminal behaviour. It is best accomplished through co-operative processes that include all stakeholders". In countries like South Africa, New Zealand and Canada, this approach in working with young people in trouble with the law, is viewed as part of the transformation of the juvenile justice system from one which was previously based on punitive philosophy to that which uses a restorative approach.The restorative justice approach places ‘key decisions into the hands of those most affected by the crime, making justice more healing and ideally more transformative, and reduces the likelihood of future offending’. Sharpe stated further that in achieving positive outcomes, it is required that firstly, victims are involved in the process and that they leave the process satisfied; secondly that offenders must understand and accept responsibility for their action; thirdly that outcomes help to repair the harm done and addresses the reasons for the offence by laying out specific plans to meet this goal, and lastly, opportunity is afforded to the victim and the offender to gain a sense of closure, facilitating both being reintegrated into the community.As one of the more popular restorative justice programmes, the process of diversion occurs prior to the trial taking place. Diversion is a way of ‘dealing with offenders that allows cases to be referred away from the criminal justice system”. It is a voluntary process, implying that neither the young person nor the victim or community is compelled to participate in order to achieve the desired outcome. Diversion programmes may include written apologies, obligatory family time or performing community service for specified hours as pre-determined. Its successful completion would likely result in the withdrawal of criminal charges

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