Timeline of Restorative Justice

Restorative justice has a rich history that spans many cultures and time periods. From ancient Babylon to Māori culture, restorative justice approaches have been used to promote healing, reconciliation, and the restoration of relationships. In this table, we highlight some examples of restorative justice throughout history, including the approximate dates and locations in which they emerged. These examples demonstrate that the principles of restorative justice are not new, and have been used by many societies to promote justice and healing.

Time PeriodLocationAncient Restorative Justice Example
1754 BCEBabylonCode of Hammurabi prescribed restorative justice measures for crimes such as theft, assault, and property damage. Offenders were required to pay restitution to their victims, often in the form of financial compensation or labor.
5th-4th centuries BCEGreeceThe concept of “dikē” or “justice” was closely linked to the idea of “restoration.” When a wrong was committed, it was the responsibility of the offender to make amends to the victim and restore the social balance that had been disrupted.
Unknown (Traditional)AfricaIn many African cultures, disputes are resolved through community-based processes that prioritize healing and reconciliation over punishment. Restorative justice approaches have been used for centuries.
27 BCE – 14 CERomeThe concept of “restitutio in integrum” was used to restore the victim to their pre-harm state. Offenders were required to make amends to their victims, often through financial compensation or other restorative measures.
Unknown (Traditional)Māori cultureThe concept of “whakapapa” or “genealogy” is central to restorative justice. Māori restorative justice practices prioritize the restoration of relationships and the healing of intergenerational trauma.
Unknown (Traditional)ChinaThe concept of “yin-yang” was used to maintain social harmony and balance. Restorative justice approaches emphasized the need to restore the balance that had been disrupted by the harm.
30 CEIsraelIn the biblical story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), a tax collector who had cheated and oppressed his fellow Jews, seeks to make amends by giving half of his possessions to the poor and paying back four times the amount he had stolen. In this way, he restores his relationship with the community and with God.

Timeline of Modern Restorative Justice

YearModern Restorative Justice Milestones
1974First official victim-offender mediation program established in Kitchener, Ontario
1981First Family Group Conference (FGC) held in New Zealand as part of the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act
1982First Community Service Order introduced in New Zealand, providing an alternative to imprisonment for certain offenses
1986First Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP) established in Elkhart, Indiana
1989First Juvenile Justice Act introduced in Canada, emphasizing the use of restorative justice principles in the treatment of young offenders
1991United Nations establishes the Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters
1995First formal restorative justice program for adult offenders established in Vermont
2002International Institute for Restorative Practices founded in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
2006International Restorative Justice Conference held in Belfast, Northern Ireland

It’s important to note that this timeline is not exhaustive and that restorative justice practices have continued to evolve and expand over time, with new programs and initiatives being introduced regularly. Additionally, the timeline focuses primarily on the development of restorative justice in North America and New Zealand, but restorative justice practices have been implemented in many other countries as well.