Restorative justice works for perpetrators – and victims

By Joanne Alcantara, Katherine Beckett, and Martina Kartman, special to the Seattle Times

The authors of the Op-Ed on restorative justice [“Restorative justice may help, but let’s not forget victims,” April 27, Opinion] express concern about recent efforts by King County prosecutors to address crime through alternative processes based on restorative-justice principles. They urged prosecutors to stay faithful to traditional approaches. Their recommendation is misguided, as the conventional response to crime does not serve survivors well, causes additional harm, and ultimately reproduces violence and inequality.

The authors contend that continued support for alternative approaches to crime is emblematic of a worrisome tendency to focus on those who cause harm rather than those who experience it. They also suggest that victims do not support alternatives to prison or want to participate in the process of restorative justice. These claims are unfounded.

The primary purpose of restorative justice is to facilitate the healing of all impacted parties. Research shows that many crime survivors favor such alternatives. A recent national survey, for example, found that 70 percent of crime survivors favor non-prison based ways of holding people accountable.

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