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Restorative Justice in Prison

rwanda prisonersRestorative justice as a modern movement grew largely as a community-based alternative to the criminal justice system. However, as justice system personnel began recognizing the potential of restorative responses, particular practices have been adopted by police, courts, probation and parole systems and prisons.

Prisons are not a natural place for restorative processes because relationships are often highly coercive. There is a clear authority structure between prison staff and the prisoners, and in a less formal way, between powerful prisoners and the others. Furthermore, the prison sub-culture, which tends to respect only the exercise of power, is not conducive to values of respect, humility and constructive dialogue.

Nonetheless, restorative processes and concepts are being adopted within prisons in a number of countries. These tend to focus on four areas: victim awareness, victim-offender dialogue, restorative justice in prison administration, and restorative justice approaches to preparing for release.

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