Restoring Justice: An Introduction to Restorative Justice, Sixth Edition

A Review of the 6th Edition of “Restoring Justice”

A Comprehensive Introduction

The 6th edition of “Restoring Justice: An Introduction to Restorative Justice” By Daniel W. Van Ness, Karen Heetderks Strong, Jonathan Derby, L. Lynette Parker (Copyright 2022), stands as a pivotal work in the restorative justice landscape. Authored with a depth of understanding and scholarly rigor, it provides a comprehensive look at the theory, principles, and practical applications of restorative justice. This book serves as both an academic resource and a practical guide, making it a must-read for anyone engaged in criminal justice reform.

Breaking Down Conceptual Barriers

One of the book’s strongest suits is its ability to challenge entrenched patterns of thinking that have long governed our approach to justice. It explores how traditional systems have been more punitive and impersonal, focusing on conviction and punishment. The book then offers restorative justice as a humane alternative, emphasizing healing, inclusion, and community involvement.

Historical Context and New Patterns of Thinking

Understanding the roots of restorative justice is vital for its contemporary application. The book provides a brief yet insightful historical backdrop, outlining indigenous justice approaches and early explorations of restorative justice theories. It then transitions into how new patterns of thinking can lead to a justice system that meets the needs of people harmed, involves the community, and aims to reduce incarceration.

The Core Principles

Restorative justice is grounded in principles that shift the focus from punishment to healing. The book articulates these principles effectively, emphasizing how justice should heal, include, and share. It also provides a visual model to help readers conceptualize the dynamics between these guiding principles.

Four Cornerposts of Restorative Justice

The book elucidates the four cornerpost ideas—Inclusion, Encounter, Repair, and Cohesion—that form the backbone of restorative justice. Each cornerpost serves as a chapter, delving into its practical implications, from giving voice to the harmed and the harmer to creating avenues for reparations and community cohesion.

Practical Models and Applications

One of the standout features is its examination of multiple models for integrating restorative justice into existing criminal justice systems. It not only outlines these models but also critiques them, laying the groundwork for their practical implementation.

Measuring Restorativeness

A notable contribution of this edition is its framework for assessing the “restorativeness” of programs or systems. Using the four cornerposts as a gauge, the book provides a robust approach to evaluate the effectiveness and integrity of restorative practices, adding a layer of accountability to the field.

Strategic Objectives and Tactical Recommendations

The authors go beyond mere theory to suggest six strategic objectives aimed at broadening the reach and influence of restorative justice. These objectives are accompanied by tactical recommendations, providing a roadmap for turning theory into actionable change.

Addressing Challenges and Criticisms

Restorative justice is not without its critics and challenges. This edition takes a balanced approach by acknowledging potential pitfalls, such as power dynamics and due process violations, offering constructive solutions and safeguards in response.

The Importance of Community and Collaboration

The book emphasizes the importance of community involvement and collaborative initiatives in achieving restorative justice objectives. It discusses how communities should be kept central in these initiatives and emphasizes the need for trauma-informed collaborations.

Conclusion: A Catalyst for Change

In summary, the 6th edition of “Restoring Justice” serves as a comprehensive, insightful, and actionable resource for understanding and implementing restorative justice. It offers an incisive critique of existing systems while providing a transformative framework for a more equitable and humane approach to justice. This book is not just an academic exercise; it’s a catalyst for societal change, urging us to embrace a justice model centered on healing, inclusion, and reconciliation.

An overview of key sections of the book

In the first part of the book, “The Concept of Restorative Justice,” the authors lay the groundwork by scrutinizing the patterns of thinking that have historically influenced justice systems. They emphasize the importance of viewing justice as relational rather than impartial and impersonal. This part of the book also critiques the mass incarceration and war on drugs policies, inviting readers to consider alternative paradigms that could lead to more equitable outcomes.

The second part, “The Cornerposts of Restorative Justice,” delves into the fundamental principles underpinning this alternative form of justice. Four cornerpost ideas—Inclusion, Encounter, Repair, and Cohesion—are presented as the pillars that hold the edifice of restorative justice. Inclusion ensures that all stakeholders have a voice in the process, while Encounter provides a forum for dialogue. Repair focuses on mending the harm done, and Cohesion aims to restore social harmony.

One of the standout sections of the book is the chapter on “Justice That Promotes Healing.” The authors take a nuanced approach in discussing three conceptions of restorative justice: Encounter, Reparative, and Transformative. They make it clear that the ultimate goal of restorative justice is to heal—both the individual and the community. It’s not merely an alternative method for resolving disputes, but a holistic philosophy of justice.

Perhaps the most groundbreaking section of the book is the one that outlines “Six Strategic Objectives to Expand the Use of Restorative Justice.” The first objective, making restorative justice the default option even in serious cases, is a bold proposition that challenges the status quo. The second objective argues for a reparative system as a backup, and the third calls for a parallel system designed to meet the needs of those harmed.

The fourth strategic objective emphasizes the need to make the incarceration experience more restorative. This is particularly compelling as it aims to change the prison system from the inside out, focusing on rehabilitation rather than punishment. The fifth objective calls for incentivizing investments that support social cohesion within communities, promoting a sense of collective responsibility and interconnectedness.

The sixth and final objective proposes the creation of a model restorative justice legal framework. This would serve as a blueprint for implementing restorative justice principles at the legislative level, providing the legal scaffolding necessary to support these practices. This is a monumental task, but the authors lay out a comprehensive strategy to achieve it, making a compelling case for its urgency and feasibility.

The book also recognizes the challenges facing the implementation of restorative justice, such as the need to respect the rule of law and protect fundamental rights. It proposes mechanisms to ensure accountability and offers a blueprint for making restorative justice a reality. This involves a common agenda, shared measurement systems, and continuous communication among stakeholders.

Endorsements from academics and practitioners in the field add another layer of credibility to this edition. Vivian Aseye Djokotoe, Linda Keena, and Emily Gaarder, among others, praise the book for its clarity, comprehensiveness, and utility both in academic settings and real-world applications. These testimonials affirm that “Restoring Justice” is not just a textbook but a transformative tool that has tangible impacts on both students and professionals.

In conclusion, the sixth edition of “Restoring Justice: An Introduction to Restorative Justice” is more than a mere update; it is a renewed call to action. It serves as a roadmap for those who are new to the concept of restorative justice, as well as a deep well of insights for those already engaged in its practice. By challenging traditional notions and presenting a compelling alternative, this book has the potential to be the catalyst for a justice system that truly serves the needs of all.

Outline of the Table of Contents for “Restoring Justice: An Introduction to Restorative Justice, Sixth Edition”

Part 1: The Concept of Restorative Justice

  1. Chapter 1: How Patterns of Thinking Can Obstruct Justice
    • Introduction to Key Concepts
    • The Evolution of Patterns of Thinking
      • Justice as Relational: Ancient Perspectives
      • Current Paradigm: Impersonal and Impartial Justice
    • Historical Overview
    • Consequences of Current Paradigm
      • Mass Incarceration
      • War on Drugs
    • Considering Alternatives to Current Patterns
    • Conclusion and Review Questions
  2. Chapter 2: The Development of a New Pattern of Thinking
    • Introduction to Key Concepts
    • Defining Restorative Justice
    • Attempts to Reform the Criminal Justice System
      • Increasing Access to Services
      • Ensuring Restitution
      • Focus on Procedural Rights
    • Community Inclusion in Justice
    • Indigenous Justice Approaches
    • Early Pioneers in Restorative Justice
    • Conclusion and Review Questions
  3. Chapter 3: Justice That Promotes Healing
    • Introduction to Key Concepts
    • The Three Conceptions of Restorative Justice
      • Encounter
      • Reparative
      • Transformative
    • Core Principles and Definitions
      • Justice Heals
      • Justice Includes
      • Justice Shares
    • A Visual Model of Restorative Justice
    • Values and Practices in Restorative Justice
      • Inclusion
      • Encounter
      • Repair
      • Cohesion
    • Measuring the Effectiveness of Restorative Justice
    • Conclusion and Review Questions

Part 2: The Cornerposts of Restorative Justice

  1. Chapter 4: Inclusion
    • Introduction to Key Concepts
    • The Role of Inclusion in Restorative Justice
    • Practical Implications
      • Victim’s Role in Various Stages of Proceedings
      • Legal Standing for Reparation
    • Conclusion and Review Questions
  2. Chapter 5: Encounter
    • Introduction to Key Concepts
    • Elements and Processes of Restorative Encounters
    • Risks and Safeguards
      • Power Dynamics
      • Due Process
      • Trauma
    • Facilitator Training and Program Policies
    • Empowering Participants and Repairing Harm
    • Conclusion and Review Questions
  3. Chapter 6: Repair
    • Introduction to Key Concepts
    • Addressing the Needs of the Harmed
      • Safety
      • Vindication
      • Relief from Stigma
      • Practical Support
    • Making Amends
      • Remorse
      • Apology
      • Changed Behavior
    • Restitution and Community Service
    • Conclusion and Review Questions
  4. Chapter 7: Cohesion
    • Introduction to Key Concepts
    • Building Relationships and Respect
    • Support Systems and Resilience
      • Circles of Support and Accountability
      • Faith Communities
    • Trauma-Informed Approaches
    • Conclusion and Review Questions

Part 3: The Challenges Facing Restorative Justice

  1. Chapter 8: Toward a Restorative System
    • Introduction to Key Concepts
    • Models for Incorporating Restorative Justice
      • Augmentation Model
      • Safety Net Model
      • Dual Track Model
      • Hybrid Model
      • Unitary Model
    • Restorative Justice in Contemporary Criminal Justice
    • Assessing the “Restorativeness” of a System or Program
    • Conclusion and Review Questions
  2. Chapter 9: Shifting to a Restorative Paradigm
    • Introduction to Key Concepts
    • Six Strategic Objectives to Expand Restorative Justice
    • Addressing Potential Shortcomings
      • Rule of Law
      • Fundamental Rights
      • Accountability
    • Strategies for Implementation
      • Common Agenda
      • Shared Measurement Systems
      • Mutually Reinforcing Activities
      • Continuous Communication
      • Backbone Support Organization
      • Equity and Community Focus
      • Trauma-Informed Collaborations
    • Conclusion

Expanding the Horizons of Restorative Justice: A Deep Dive into the Six Strategic Objectives (Chapter 8)

These objectives serve as a comprehensive blueprint for the expansion and integration of restorative justice into various aspects of societal structures.

1. Making Restorative Justice the Default Option

The first objective recommends making restorative justice the default option in the legal system, even for serious crimes. This is a bold step, challenging the traditional paradigm that often perceives restorative justice as suitable only for minor offenses. Making it the default option would necessitate comprehensive training for legal professionals and a public awareness campaign to dispel myths and apprehensions. It could also lead to more effective and empathic resolutions, transforming how society perceives justice.

2. A Reparative System as a Backup

Restorative justice is not a one-size-fits-all approach. There are instances when parties may not be willing or able to participate in restorative processes. In such cases, the second objective suggests the development of a reparative system that can act as a backup. This system would focus on making amends but without the direct interaction between the victim and the offender, thereby still aiming for a humane and constructive outcome.

3. Meeting the Needs of Persons Harmed

Restorative justice, at its core, is about healing the harm done. The third objective emphasizes developing a parallel system exclusively designed to meet the needs of those harmed. This system could include trauma-informed care, psychological support, and even financial assistance, ensuring that the recovery of the victim is central to the justice process.

4. A More Restorative Incarceration Experience

The conventional incarceration system often exacerbates the cycle of crime and punishment, offering little in the way of rehabilitation. The fourth objective proposes making the incarceration experience more restorative. This could be achieved through educational programs, skill-building initiatives, and therapy, focusing on the reformation and reintegration of the offender into society.

5. Supporting Social Cohesion Through Investments

Social cohesion is a vital but often overlooked aspect of restorative justice. The fifth objective aims to incentivize investments in community programs that foster social cohesion. This could involve government grants for community-building projects or tax benefits for organizations that contribute to social well-being, ultimately creating an environment where restorative justice can thrive.

6. Creating a Legal Framework

The final objective speaks to the need for a robust legal framework that is tailored to support restorative justice. Such a framework would establish the legal foundations for restorative practices, ensuring they are consistent, transparent, and uphold the principles of restorative justice. This would involve legislative efforts and could also serve as a model for other jurisdictions to follow.

The Synergy of Objectives

These objectives are not standalone measures but are synergistic components of a larger vision. They complement each other, creating a comprehensive strategy for integrating restorative justice into our societal fabric. For instance, making restorative justice the default option (Objective 1) would be more feasible within a supportive legal framework (Objective 6).

Overcoming Challenges

While these objectives lay a strong foundation for the expansion of restorative justice, they are not without challenges. Implementation would require multi-sectoral collaboration, political will, and substantial financial investment. However, the long-term benefits, both societal and economic, can be transformative.


The six strategic objectives outlined in the sixth edition of “Restoring Justice” serve as a visionary roadmap for the future of restorative justice. By systematically addressing various aspects from legal procedures to community engagement, these objectives offer a holistic approach to redefining justice. Implementing them could usher in a paradigm shift, replacing retributive justice with a system genuinely focused on healing, reconciliation, and social cohesion.

Reviews and endorsements

Restoring Justice has been very instrumental in helping me achieve the goal of bringing a thorough understanding of the subject to my students in language that is clear, simple and concise.”

Vivian Aseye Djokotoe Ph.D, Professor and Division Chair of Criminal Justice Sciences, Director of Western Restorative Justice and Reentry Center, Western Oregon University

“I wanted a textbook that would help the students understand how restorative justice practices help to repair the harms of both victims and offenders, and how both are reintegrated into the community. This is especially important and useful when I use the textbook in the correctional facility. After reading the textbook, students understand how their actions affect other people and they learn to take responsibility for those actions.”

Linda Keena, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Legal Studies, Legal Studies Program Coordinator, University of Mississippi

“I like the accessibility of the text–perfect for the introduction of issues to undergraduate students. I also think it frames the concepts of restorative justice in a unique way that other “intro to RJ” texts do not….The authors are careful with their choice of words and citations, so it is also a trusted source for me as a professor.” 

Emily Gaarder, Director of the Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking and Associate Professor in Studies in Justice, Culture, and Social Change, University of Minnesota Duluth.

“When I developed my own Restorative Justice course more than 20 years ago, I adopted the book as my main text. Its comprehensiveness and clarity drew me: it provided me with a great foundation in restorative justice theory and practice, so I knew it would be valuable for my students as well. Its usefulness for framing restorative justice is unsurpassed.” 

Lois Presser, Professor of Sociology, University of Tennessee

Endorsements of Previous Editions of Restoring Justice:

“As a crime victim, victim advocate, and long-time supporter of restorative justice values and principals, I found Restoring Justice to be an excellent resource for anyone interested in the complex world of restorative justice history, processes, and ideas. Bravo to Dan Van Ness and Karen Strong for offering a balanced approach to restorative justice that understands “real” justice is about repairing the harm and healing those who have been harmed by crime: victims, offenders, and communities. Restoring Justice is a well-written and quite often inspirational book!”

Ellen Halbert, Director, Victim/Witness Division, Travis County District Attorney’s Office, Austin, Texas

“At each edition of Restoring Justice, Daniel Van Ness and Karen Heetderks Strong set the standard and make their volume one of the basic books—or perhaps the basic book—on restorative justice.

Their book reflects the richness of the restorative justice approach, through process analyses with clinical relevance, theoretical thinking with social ethical and social significance, principled exploration on juridical options, and a broad sociological context analysis. Van Ness and Heetderks Strong colour this broad interdisciplinary picture with their own visions and options. In doing so, they deliver a crucial contribution to understanding restorative justice principles and their proper implementation.

Restoring Justice is the result of intensive commitment to the values of restorative justice, balanced with a constructive critical mind for possible problematic implementations, and openness for unanswered questions and unresolved difficulties. It is a landmark in the restorative justice literature.”

Lode Walgrave, Emeritus Professor of Criminology, Faculty of Law, Catholic University of Leuven

“Restoring Justice is the best, most thorough text on the most important development in the justice system in the last decade: restorative justice.… a seminal work.… this book does a wonderful job of describing the rationale, presenting the arguments, confronting the criticisms.… provides a measured, reliable statement on our need to restore justice.”

Todd Clear, University Professor of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice

“… a great introductory overview of restorative justice … easily understood while also providing significant depth.… draws together the significant insights in the field while making several new contributions… invites and encourages change without alienating people who are currently working in the field. I recommend Restoring Justice for both the novice and the seasoned restorative justice reader.”

Ron Claassen, Co-owner, Restorative Justice Discipline, Fresno and former Director of the Center for Peacemaking and Conflict Studies, Fresno Pacific University

“… an exceptionally good job of clearly articulating the underlying principles and values of restorative justice, including many practical examples. This book will serve as a primary resource for scholars and practitioners involved in the restorative justice movement as it continues to expand.”

Mark Umbreit, Professor and founding Director of the Center for Restorative Justice & Peacemaking, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota

[In Restoring Justice, Dan Van Ness and Karen Strong] challenge researchers and scholars to move beyond measuring only recidivism as the ultimate outcome of evaluation, and victim and offender satisfaction as the primary intermediate measures. Based on this work, we may now instead build upon core principles to develop dimensions and measures of process integrity, as well as theoretical dimensions to assess intermediate outcomes for victim, offender, and community.”

The late Gordon Bazemore, former Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice Florida Atlantic University