Restorative Justice is a community-focused approach addressing the issue of offending, and suggests an alternative to prosecution and sentencing, hence being a substitute to the court system: “Restorative Justice is expected to heal the community bonds and to have a humanising effect on the system of punitive justice”. It enables stakeholders (offender(s), victim(s), community and others) to cooperate and come to a mutual agreement on sentences, and upon appropriate outcomes at different stages of the criminal process. Thus, its effectiveness depends predominantly upon the sincerity of the victim and the offender in the restoration of harm. There are many different treatments and programs for Restorative Justice, such as family treatment, circle sentencing, forum sentencing, mediation, reparation, and victim-offender conferences. The purpose of these programs is to create a direct interaction with offenders, communities and victims; dialogues have been created to achieve understanding and undertake responsibility.
Research on Restorative Justice
The following research has been prepared in response to criticisms regarding the alleged ineffectiveness of Restorative Justice in reducing recidivism. In particular, this article addresses the issues raised by Dr Don Weatherburn, the director of The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), in his articles ‘Effective law and order policy need not be a shot in the dark  and his comments in the article ‘Conferences could replace jail for young sex offenders. Concern has arisen from certain generalised comments made by Weatherburn including the claims that forum sentencing policies have ‘no effect on re-offending in NSW’ and that ‘despite negative results, all these programs remain in place.
Therapeutic communities with restorative justice and mentoring are effective solutions to community problems. Our own experience of positive responses to trust and sharing are entirely applicable in the area of crime. The Alexander Maconochie’s Norfolk Island experience, Jimmy Boyle’s story of the Barlinnie Unit in Scotland, and the Special Care Unit in Long Bay are documented examples of how they work effectively.
Mentoring is about building a relationship of mutual trust, friendship and supportwithin which help, advice and assistance can be offered as part of the process of re-building a life after being labelled a criminal and where many barriers actively prevent return to normal life. Justice Action sees restorative justice and mentoring as the way forward with social problems. Both are rational extensions of community support, which satisfy the needs of victims and make us all safer. But the prison industrial complex is fighting tooth and nail to keep its hostages, and us all afraid.
Changing the culture of criminal justice. This project will aim to provide practical mentoring for people whose lives have been disrupted by jail and the courts. It will also aim to force the justice system to acknowledge this mentoring as a critical part of the processes of rehabilitation/ reintegration of offenders and as a viable part of our campaign for alternatives to prison.