Restorative Justice

What is Restorative Justice?

Howard Zehr, often referred to as the “godfather” of Restorative Justice (RJ) in the West, traces RJ’s emergence to the 1970s as “an effort to correct some of the weaknesses of the western legal system while building on its strengths. An area of special concern has been the neglect of victims and their needs; legal justice is largely about what to do with offenders. It has also been driven by a desire to hold offenders truly accountable. Recognizing that punishment is often ineffective, RJ aims at helping offenders to recognize the harm they have caused and encouraging them to repair the harm, to the extent it is possible. Rather than obsessing about whether offenders get what they deserve, RJ focuses on repairing the harm of crime and engaging individuals and community members in the process.”

Restorative Partners engages individuals and the community in RJ work in the following ways:

Restorative Practice Circles (RPC)

RPC’s create a positive learning environment that fosters accountability as well as learning the most effective methods to resolve common conflicts.

Restorative Conference (RC)

RC’s are structured meetings between offenders, victims and both parties’ family and friends, in which they deal with the consequences of wrongdoing and decide how best to repair the harm. Neither a counseling nor a mediation process, conferencing is a victim-sensitive, straightforward problem-solving method that demonstrates how people can resolve their own problems when provided with a constructive forum to do so.

Restorative Justice Education

Radical Healing and Accountability (RHAA): SLO County Jail In-custody victim offender education group

  • Offender Education and Accountability/Self as Victim
  • Victim Impact and Sensitivity
  • Relapse Prevention and Victim/Offender Dialogue

Quarterly Community Education Workshops: These experiential workshops provide education about the volunteer programs we offer and the philosophy behind our work - specifically, how we engage Restorative Justice practices to help heal all those impacted by crime in our community

Ongoing Continuing Education Workshops: RP volunteers and community partners are welcome to attend regular Continuing Education Workshops where we continue to build community and explore relevant topics (such as addiction, empathy, and trauma) in greater depth

Victim Offender Dialogue (VOD)

Victim Offender Dialogue (VOD) in collaboration with Insight Prison Project and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. See the following link:

Restorative Partners Multimedia Suggestions

We have found the following videos and books incredibly helpful in shaping how we do our work. While this list is by no means exhaustive, we hope it will introduce you to some of the core principles by which we operate. If you would like to learn more, we invite you to participate in one of our Community Workshops.