History of Restorative Justice: Article Index

Key Articles:

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

Read our main history article here: The origins of restorative justice

Restorative justice originated in indigenous cultures and has been used throughout history in various forms. One of the earliest formal restorative justice programs was started in 1974 by a probation officer named Mark Yantzi in Ontario, Canada. Yantzi was dissatisfied with the limitations of the criminal justice system and began experimenting with a new approach that involved bringing offenders and victims together to discuss the harm caused and ways to repair it. This approach quickly gained popularity in Canada and the United States and eventually spread to other countries.

In 1977, the first official victim-offender mediation program was established in Kitchener, Ontario. The program involved trained mediators facilitating meetings between victims and offenders to discuss the harm caused by the offense and ways to make amends. This program became a model for other restorative justice programs around the world.

Examples of restorative justice practices in ancient cultures include:

  • In ancient Greece, there was a practice called “dik√©,” which involved victims and offenders working together to find a solution that would repair harm and restore balance to the community.
  • In the Inca Empire, there was a system called “ayni,” which involved community members working together to repair harm and restore relationships.
  • In the Maori culture of New Zealand, there is a practice called “peacemaking circles,” which involves bringing together victims, offenders, and community members to discuss harm and come up with a plan for repair.
  • The Code of Hammurabi: This Babylonian legal code, which dates back to 1754 BCE, included provisions for restitution and compensation for victims of crimes, as well as fines and punishments for offenders.
  • The Navajo justice system: The Navajo people of the southwestern United States have a similar tradition of restorative justice, known as “peacemaking,” which emphasizes community involvement and healing rather than punishment.

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.