Restorative justice is an ancient concept that can be traced back to Babylonian law codes dating back to 1754 BCE. The Code of Hammurabi, one of the earliest known law codes, contained provisions for compensation to be paid to victims of harm or their families. This compensation was intended to restore the victim’s property and dignity and to prevent further harm from being done.
Other ancient cultures also practiced forms of restorative justice. In ancient Greece, for example, disputes between individuals were often resolved through a process of mediation in which a neutral third party facilitated a dialogue between the parties involved. Similarly, in ancient Rome, the concept of “restitutio in integrum” allowed victims of harm to seek compensation for their losses and to have the harm repaired.
Restorative justice gained popularity in the modern era as a response to the failures of traditional justice systems, which often focus on punishment rather than repairing harm. By including the voices of victims and communities in the process, restorative justice has been shown to be more effective at reducing recidivism and promoting healing for all involved.
Year Development in Restorative Justice 1754 BCE The Code of Hammurabi provided for compensation to be paid to victims of harm or their families. 5th century BCE Ancient Greece used a process of mediation to resolve disputes between individuals. 4th century BCE Ancient Rome developed the concept of “restitutio in integrum,” which allowed victims of harm to seek compensation for their losses and to have the harm repaired. 5th to 15th century CE Medieval Europe used “compurgation” or “oath-helping” to resolve disputes, in which the accused person would bring together a group of people to swear an oath of innocence. 17th century CE The Quakers in colonial America practiced a form of restorative justice by resolving disputes among members of their community through mediation and group decision-making. 1949 CE China’s new Criminal Procedure Law included a provision for “reconciliation through mediation” in criminal cases. 1950s CE In Africa, the traditional practice of “Ubuntu” emphasized community-based justice and restoration of relationships. 1970s CE Modern restorative justice practices began to emerge in Canada, with pioneers like Mark Yantzi developing victim-offender mediation programs. 1980s CE Restorative justice programs began to be established in other countries, including New Zealand and Australia. These programs were often focused on reducing recidivism rates and providing more meaningful forms of justice for victims.
The Origins of Restorative Justice
The History of Restorative Justice
The Use of Restorative Justice around the World
The use of Restorative Practices in Ancient Cultures
Pioneers and turning points in the history of restorative justice