One of the main criticisms of RJ proponents towards mainstream Criminal Justice system is that this last “dis-empowers” individuals. As Criminal Justice is mainly focused on how to punish the offender, it often leaves the victim’s needs unaddressed (such as to tell the offender the consequences of his or her actions, to seek for answers, etc.). RJ is a participatory and inclusive proposition of reaction to an offense that engages victims and offenders in a communication process about the consequences of it. In fact, “empowerment” (that has been described as a feeling of involvement, of participation, a power to express and to identify problems as well as to decide solutions). is a key concept in both RJ theory and practice. In fact, RJ gives a central and active role to victims by providing them the opportunity to be heard and to make decisions on a situation that concerns them. Beyond the individual (micro) level of victims’ empowerment during RJ practices, the article opens an interdisciplinary dialogue to discover whether or not victims’ participation in RJ practices can go beyond it, towards a social (macro) level.
To go further on RJ and Psychology:
Daniela, one of the authors of the article, Assistant Professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, published recently her book entitled Restoring Harm: A Psychosocial Approach to Victims and Restorative Justice. The book analyses the restoration process from a psychosocial point of view and discusses the role of victim–offender mediation within such a process. It brings together literature from the fields of RJ, Victimology and Psychology, and shares original findings from victims who were interviewed in Belgium and Spain.
- AERTSEN Ivo, BOLIVAR Daniela, MESMAECKER Vicky and LAUWERS Nathalie (2011), “Restorative justice and the active victim: exploring empowerment”, Temida, Journal of victimization, human rights and gender, 14(1):5-19
Restorative Justice (RJ) awareness campaign launched by
the Center for the Study of Crime (CESC)
in collaboration with
PhD candidate Aix-Marseille University
European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ) Board member
Athens, 17-24 November 2019