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Skidmore College
Project on Restorative Justice

About Restorative Justice

Here is a 25-minute overview of restorative justice by David Karp, Director of the Skidmore College RJ Project.

Restorative justice is a global social movement with many traditions and approaches. Restorative Justice Online maintains a database of articles about restorative justice from around the world.

Restorative conferencing is a process that has its roots in the indigenous Maori justice process in New Zealand. Conferencing became popularized worldwide in the 1990s as a result of research by the prominent Australian law professor John Braithwaite. In 1998 in Baltimore, Maryland, Lauren Abramson founded the Community Conference Center, one of the most active restorative justice centers in the U.S.

Artwork, by Randy Charbonneau, entitled "Restorative Justice and Transforming Society"

This is the cover image from Rupert Ross' book, Returning to the Teachings. The artwork, by Randy Charbonneau, is entitled "Restorative Justice and Transforming Society." The description in the book reads:

"It was the turtle who offered his back when a foundation was needed to re-create Mother Earth. At the beginning of time, the Anishinabe (the original people) had ways of dealing with justice within the community. The circle was known to be the place of no end. It created a space where one's voice could be heard--where the capacity, the connection, the creativity of the community found a place of being, by bringing people together to repair the harm that had been done. A victim's voice, an offender's voice, the community's voice, no longer ignored, shamed or victimized. A place of compassion, connection, sacredness, voice and truth."



Flowchart of how a restorative justice process works
Victim offender mediated dialogues began in 1978 with a small program in Elkhart, Indiana by Howard Zehr. Often called the grandfather of restorative justice, Zehr recently retired from his professorship at Eastern Mennonite University. In the 1980s, Mark Umbreit, a social work professor at the University of Minnesota, further developed VOM/D as an evidence-based practice and founded the Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking.
How a mediation dialog could be set up
Circle practices draw on Native American and Canadian First Nations traditions. They became popular with the 1996 publication of Rupert Ross' Returning to the Teachings: Exploring Aboriginal Justice and the 2003 Peacemaking Circles: From Crime to Community, by Kay Pranis, Barry Stuart, and Mark Wedge. Circles are used widely as a response to crime, to address school misconduct, and to offer support for offenders returning to the community from prison.

Introduction to RJ

Here are two short introductions from Brave New Films. The first makes a straightforward case of why RJ is important and the second provides a case example from Los Angeles.

Great Britain has implemented RJ widely. The non-profit Restorative Justice Council has produced two introductory videos to help explain RJ to the public:


RJ Conferences

These videos show the process of RJ conferencing. The first is a clip from the documentary called Burning Bridges, featuring the first part of the conferencing, which identifies the harm caused by the offense--in this case the burning of a historic covered bridge. The second is a short documentary about a restorative dialogue in a case of sexual assault. 


The first clip provides testimonials from youth participants of a restorative justice program in Santa Rosa, California.The second is dramatization of an actual conference in England based on a burglary incident.


Restorative Justice Circle Practices

These video clips show the restorative justice circle practices in the K-12 school setting. These were produced by the prominent program, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY).

The first shows how the practice is used for community building and prevention.

The second is a reentry circle for a student returning to high school after serving time in juvenile detention.

Restorative Justice in Prison and Reentry

The first clip features the victim-offender dialogue in Colorado prisons.

The second focuses on the Bridges to Life Program, a prison-based restorative justice education project focusing on victim awareness and empathy. 

The thrid focuses on Circles of Support and Accountability, and highly successful model for high risk sex offenders returning to the community from prison.


Restorative Justice for Mass Violence and Human Rights Violations

These videos show how restorative justice practices are used in the aftermath of war, genocide, and human rights violations.

The first features reconciliation practices in Rwanda

The second focuses on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa


General Restorative Justice Websites 

Academic Programs Examining Restorative Justice


Important RJ Books

Boyes-Watson, Carolyn. 2008. Peacemaking Circles and Urban Youth. St. Paul, MN: Living Justice Press.

Boyes-Watson, Carolyn and Kay Pranis. 2015. Circle Forward: Building a Restorative School Community. St. Paul, MN: Living Justice Press.

Braithwaite, John. 1989. Crime, Shame, and Reintegration. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Braithwaite, John. 2002. Restorative Justice and Responsive Regulation. New York: Oxford University Press.

Burnett, Nick and Margaret Thorsborne. 2015. Restorative Practice and Special Needs. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers..

Holtham, Jeanette. 2009. Taking Restorative Justice to Schools: A Doorway to Discipline. Toledo, IL: Homestead Press.

Johnstone, Gerry. 2002. Restorative Justice: Ideas, Values, Debates. Portland, OR: Willan.

Liebmann, Marian. 2007. Restorative Justice: How it Works. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Llewellyn, Jennifer and Daniel Philpott. 2014. Restorative Justice, Reconciliation, and Peacebuilding. New York: Oxford.

London, Ross. 2011. Crime, Punishment, and Restorative Justice. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock.

Mills, Linda. 2008. Violent Partners: A Breakthrough Plan for Ending the Cycle of Abuse. New York: Basic Books.

Morrison, Brenda. 2007. Restoring Safe School Communities: A Whole School Response to Bullying, Violence and Alienation. Federation.

Pranis, Kay, Barry Stuart, and Mark Wedge. 2003. Peacemaking Circles. St. Paul, MN: Living Justice Press.

Pranis, Kay. 2005. The Little Book of Circle Processes. Intercourse, PA: Good Books.

Ross, Rupert. 1996. Returning to the Teachings: Exploring Aboriginal Justice. New York: Penguin.

Rossner, Meredith. 2013. Just Emotions: Rituals of Restorative Justice. New York: Oxford University Press.

Schrage, Jennifer Meyer and Nancy Geist Giacomini (eds.). 2009. Reframing Campus Conflict: Student Conduct Process through a Social Justice Lens. Herndon, VA: Stylus.

Shapland, Joanna, Gwen Robinson and Angela Sorsby. 2011. Restorative Justice in Practice: Evaluating What Works for Victims and Offenders. New York: Routledge.

Stutzman Amstutz, Lorraine. 2009. The Little Book of Victim Offender Conferencing. Intercourse, PA: Good Books.

Stutzman Amstutz, Lorraine and Judy Mullet. 2005. The Little Book of Restorative Discipline for Schools. Intercourse, PA: Good Books.

Umbreit, Mark and Marilyn Peterson Armour. 2010. Restorative Justice Dialogues: A Research-Based Approach to Working with Victims, Offenders, Families and Communities. New York: Springer.

Thorsborne, Margaret and Peta Blood. 2013. Implementing Restorative Practice in Schools: A Practical Guide to Transforming School Communities. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Zehr, Howard. 1990. Changing Lenses. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press.

Zehr, Howard. 2002. The Little Book of Restorative Justice. Intercourse, PA: Good Books.