Restorative Justice Theory and Practice

Further Reading for Victim/Survivors & Facilitators

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Barton, Charles K. B. Getting Even: Revenge as a Form of Justice, Open Court, 1999.

The author of this text aims to show that revenge is a required form of justice that should be incorporated into the criminal justice system. He argues that the current system disempowers those who are victims of crime, the accused and their respective communities.


Bazemore, Gordon, and Schiff, Mara. Restorative Community Justice: Repairing Harm and Transforming Communities, Anderson, 2001.

An anthology of original essays, this book presents debates over practice, theory, and implementation of restorative justice. Attention is focused on the movement’s direction toward a more holistic, community-oriented approach to criminal justice intervention. Includes  Restorative Justice for Crime Victims: The Promise, The Challenge, by Mary Achilles and Howard Zehr.

Achilles and Zehr acknowledge the traditional plight of victims in the criminal justice system. In recent years many initiatives have emerged to assist victims better in the aftermath of crime. Achilles and Zehr state that restorative justice holds great promise for better treatment of victims. In contrast to the inadequacy and even trauma attendant to victims in the current criminal justice system, restorative justice theory views harm to the victim as central to the understanding of and response to crime. Nevertheless, the authors ask whether restorative justice can deliver on this promise for victims. Indeed, many advocates of victims’ needs and rights are ambivalent about or even suspicious of restorative justice. Therefore, the authors examine what victims need from justice. They examine what restorative justice specifically offers victims. Then they deal with the question of whether restorative justice can deliver what it offers. Several factors that challenge the adequacy of restorative justice for victims are discussed. Following this section, the authors delineate a number of things that can be done to improve restorative justice theory and practice on behalf of victims of crime.


Braithwaite, John. Crime, Shame, and Reintegration, Cambridge, 1989.

In this cornerstone book on shame by Australian criminologist John Braithwaite, he suggests that the key to why some societies have higher crime rates than others lies in the way different cultures go about the social process of shaming wrongdoers. Shaming can be counterproductive, making crime problems worse. But when shaming is done within a cultural context of respect for the offender, it can be an extraordinarily powerful, efficient, and just form of social control.


Braithwaite, John. Restorative Justice and Responsive Regulation, Oxford University, 2001.

Restorative Justice has become an important new way of thinking about crime, responsive regulation an influential way of thinking about business regulation.  In this volume, John Braithwaite brings together his important work of restorative justice with his work on business regulation to form a sweepingly novel picture of the way society regulates itself.


Braithwaite, John, and Strang, Heather. Restorative Justice and Family Violence, Cambridge, 2002.

This book addresses one of the controversial topics in restorative justice: its potential for dealing with conflicts within families. Most restorative justice programs specifically exclude family violence as an appropriate offense to be dealt with this way. This book focuses on the issues in family violence that may warrant special caution about restorative justice, in particular, feminist and indigenous concerns. At the same time it looks for ways of designing a place for restorative interventions that respond to these concerns. Further, it asks whether there are ways that restorative processes can contribute to reducing and preventing family violence, to healing its survivors and to confronting the wellsprings of this violence. The book discusses the shortcomings of the present criminal justice response to family violence. It suggests that these shortcomings require us to explore other ways of addressing this apparently intractable problem.


Bolivar, Daniela. Restoring harm : a psycho-social approach to victims and restorative justice, Routledge, 2019.

To what extent is restorative justice able to “restore” the harm suffered by victims of crimes of interpersonal violence?  Restoring Harm analyses the restoration process from a psychosocial point of view and discusses the role of victim-offender mediation within such a process.  It brings together literature from the fields of restorative justice, victimology and psychology, and shares original findings from victims who were interviewed in Belgium and Spain.  This book not only offers descriptive findings but also provides a theoretical and comprehensive model that elucidates several possibilities for why victim-offender mediation may or may not play a role in victims’ processes of emotional restoration.  Well informed and well documented, this volume brings together evidence from different regions and develops a detailed discussion of the “effectiveness” of restorative justice with regard to victims.  Chapters included are:

    • Prologue: from satisfaction to restoration: a mixed-method and quasi-experimental study
    • Victims, restoration, and restorative justice: findings, debates and gaps
    • Victims’ perspectives on harm and restoration
    • The phenomenon of victim participation in restorative justice
    • Restoring victims: the role of victim-offender mediation
    • Towards a psycho-social model of restorative justice
    • Epilogue: the challenge of a victim-sensitive restorative justice practice.


Christian, Thomas Frank. Justice Restored: The Gary Geiger and Wayne Blanchard Story [early victim offender dialogue in NY State], Inkwater Press, 2005.

Justice Restored is a true story of two young men who meet one early morning in Albany, New York. Gary Geiger is an amateur athlete who works the night shift at a motel close to New York’s state capitol. Wayne Blanchard is a high school drop-out, on parole from a robbery of a pizza delivery man back in Syracuse. Wayne and five of his partners decide to rob the motel. In the course of the robbery they find only $150 dollars. Thinking they have knocked Gary out, the gang splits. Wayne takes a final look in and sees Gary running to a door. Wayne shoots, turns and runs to the getaway car. Gary is seriously wounded. After leaving the state, Wayne is finally apprehended and tried. Based on Gary’s testimony, Wayne is convicted and sentenced to twelve and one half to twenty-five years in prison. Gary suffers post-traumatic stress for years and feels the only way he can finally recover is to meet with Wayne in the correctional facility. Dr. Thomas Christian from the New York State Unified Court System prepares Gary and Wayne to have a victim and offender mediation. It was filmed by HBO.  This is a book about that journey.


Cragg, W. The Practice of Punishment: Towards a Theory of Restorative Justice, Routledge, 1992.

The Practice of Punishment is a philosophical account of punishment, sentencing, and correction which draws strongly on first-hand experience of penal practices, diverse recent studies, government reports, position papers, crime surveys, and victim concerns and thereby the author constructs a theory of restorative justice.  This theory of punishment is built on the view that the central function of the law is to reduce the need to use force in the resolution of disputes.  Professor Cragg argues that the proper role of sentencing and sentence administration is to sustain public confidence in the capacity of the law to fulfil that function.  Sentencing and corrections should therefore be guided by principles of restorative justice.


Furey, Agnes, and Scovens, Leonard. Wildflowers in the Median: A Restorative Journey into Healing, Justice, and Joy,, 2012.

A collection of poems, vignettes, and letters that tells the story of a journey of restoration. Agnes Furey, mother and grandmother, reached out to Leonard Scovens, in prison for taking the lives of her daughter and grandson, wishing them to each find peace and understanding amidst the grief and suffering. Furey and Scovens cofounded Achieve Higher Ground, a restorative justice program for helping others.


Galaway, Burton, and Hudson, Joe (Editors). Restorative Justice: International Perspectives, Criminal Justice, 1996.

This anthology presents 30 previously unpublished papers on the theory, research and practice of restorative justice in Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S. The chapters portray restorative justice practices at different points in the justice system as initiated by referrals from prosecutors, judges and probation and parole officials. Section topics are: theory for restorative justice practice; restorative justice practice among indigenous peoples; restorative justice practice issues; and restorative justice program applications.


Galaway, Burton, and Hudson, Joe (Editors). Criminal Justice, Restitution, and Reconciliation, Criminal Justice, 1990.

Eighteen papers discuss perspectives on restitution and victim-offender reconciliation, applications of restitution and reconciliation, and the evaluation of restitution and reconciliation programs. Three papers outline the conceptual basis for a theory of restorative justice.  Another paper notes that crime victims are often abused by the criminal justice system, as it uses victims for its own retributive ends without responding to either victims or offenders based on victims’ interests and needs. A report on a survey of burglary victims in Minnesota indicates that crime victims give high priority to the opportunity to participate in case decision making and disposition. Other papers consider the value of mediation and restitution programs within the native cultures of residents of the Canadian North; the nature of interactions among social workers, victims, and offenders in a mediation program; factors relating to victims’ decisions to participate or not participate in victim-offender reconciliation programs; and the evaluation of restitution programs.


Harcarik, Carol. Restorative Justice is Changing the World, Hartington, 2009.

A non-academic exploration of how Restorative Justice is appearing in and changing the world.  It includes four true stories, the first of acquaintance rape by boyfriend/serial rapist and a VOD, the second of a drunk driving homicide victim impact panel, the third of a murderer in a restorative justice circle, and finally a drug addict in a drug and alcohol court.  Section two includes international stories, one on New Zealand Restorative Justice and the other on the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict.  Part three discusses “Violentization.”  The book concludes with overviews of restorative justice programs at the Red Hook Community Justice Program.


Moreland, Lesley. An Ordinary Murder [a mother’s story of a daughter’s murder, and a meeting with the murderer], Aurum Press, U.K., 2002.

Lesley Moreland has written an account of her daughter’s murder and her own long battle to be able to meet, in prison, the man who carried out the killing and to find something other than bitterness and revenge in her quest. The criminal justice system was not used to such requests from the relatives of victims and for years Moreland found her attempts to meet Steel rebuffed. Finally, she was given permission to meet him, in 1995, in the company of a prison probation officer.  The book also explores Moreland’s long time correspondence, starting the year Ruth died, with Micheal, an American prisoner on death row in Texas. She got in touch with him via an organization that matches penfriends in and out of prison. Eventually she also met the daughter of the woman he had killed.   Survivor Story.


Ptacek, James (Editor). Restorative Justice and Violence Against Women, Oxford, 2009.

Restorative Justice and Violence Against Women considers both the dangers and potential benefits of using restorative justice in response to these crimes. The contributors include antiviolence activists and scholars from the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Some are strongly in favor of using restorative practices in these cases, some are strongly opposed, and many lie somewhere in between.  Their chapters introduce a range of perspectives on alternative justice practices, offering rich descriptions of new programs that combine restorative justice with feminist antiviolence approaches.


Shapland, Joanna, Robinson, Gwen, and Sorsby, Angela. Restorative Justice in Practice: Evaluating What Works for Victims and Offenders, Routledge, 2011.

In this book the three RJ schemes reported upon here were deliberately designed to be primarily for adult offenders, include serious offences and involve RJ at many different stages of criminal justice. All victims and offenders experienced the normal criminal justice response: the RJ was in parallel to criminal justice, not diversionary. RJ took place after an admission of guilt or guilty plea by the offender and was entirely voluntary on the victim and offender. The book is divided into 3 substantive sections. Section 1 focuses on how previous schemes working with adult offenders have fared and the activities needed to set up and run RJ schemes. The next section considers the experiences of all the participants (both victims and offenders) in the three schemes – the middle chapter presents five case studies, which offers the reader a feeling of being an observer of the process. The third and final section looks back at the experience of RJ from the perspective of victims and offenders and at the effects on reoffending and to what extent the schemes proved value for money.


Smith, Nick. I Was Wrong: The Meanings of Apologies, Cambridge, 2008.

Apologies can be profoundly meaningful, yet many gestures of contrition – especially those in legal contexts – appear hollow and even deceptive. Discussing numerous examples from ancient and recent history, I Was Wrong argues that we suffer from considerable confusion about the moral meanings and social functions of these complex interactions. Rather than asking whether a speech act ‘is or is not’ an apology, Smith offers a highly nuanced theory of apologetic meaning. Smith leads us through a series of rich philosophical and interdisciplinary questions, explaining how apologies have evolved from a confluence of diverse cultural and religious practices that do not translate easily into secular discourse or gender stereotypes. After classifying several varieties of apologies between individuals, Smith turns to apologies from collectives. Although apologies from corporations, governments, and other groups can be quite meaningful in certain respects, we should be suspicious of those that supplant apologies from individual wrongdoers.


Gavrielides, Theo and Gavrielides, Theo, (editor.) Routledge International Handbook of Restorative Justice, Routledge, 2018.

A more recent volume of essays on restorative justice theory and practice.  It looks at the evidence and next steps in the restorative justice world from an international, multi-field perspective.  Sample chapters include:

    • Looking at the past of restorative justice: Normative reflections on its future  /  Carolyn Boyes- Watson
    • Victims and restorative justice: bringing theory and evidence together  /  Arthur Hartmann
    • Restorative justice and gender differences in intimate partner violence: the evidence  /  Anne Hayden
    • Restorative justice re­entry planning for the imprisoned: an evidence­ based approach to recidivism reduction /  Lorenn Walker and Janet Davidson
    • Does restorative justice reduce recidivism? Assessing evidence and claims about restorative justice and reoffending / Ellie Piggott and William Wood
    • Restorative justice compared to what?  /  Annalise Acorn
    • Transforming powers and restorative justice  / George Pavlich


Umbreit, Mark. Victim Meets Offender: The Impact of Restorative Justice and Mediation, Criminal Justice, 1994.

This study evaluates voluntary victim-offender mediation programs operating in 4 juvenile courts in Oakland, CA, Minneapolis, MN, Albuquerque, NM and Austin, TX. Data were obtained from interviews with 1,153 victims and offenders. Victim-offender programs resulted in very high levels of satisfaction among both victims and offenders. More than 90% of mediation sessions produced a negotiated restitution plan to compensate the victim, and more than 80% of offenders complied with their restitution obligations.


Umbreit, Mark. The Handbook of Victim Offender Mediation: An Essential Guide to Practice and Research, Jossey-Bass, 2001.

The Handbook of Victim Offender Mediation provides practical guidance and resources for offering victim meditation in property crimes, in minor assaults, and, more recently, with crimes of severe violence, including with family members of murder victims who request to meet the offender.  It includes a) Guidelines for Victim-Sensitive Mediation and Dialogue with Offenders, b) The Mediation Process: Phases and Tasks, c) multicultural Implications of Victim Offender Mediation, d) Case Studies,  e) National Survey of Victim Offender Mediation Programs and f) Program Development Issues.


Umbreit, Mark, and Vos, Betty, Coates, Robert B., Brown, Katherine A. Facing Violence:  The Path of Restorative Justice and Dialogue, Willow Tree Press, 2003.

Through research and evidence answers the question: “Can restorative justice be effective in cases involving the most serious violent crime?”  The authors of Facing Violence evaluate pioneering programs in Texas and Ohio that employ mediation/dialogue techniques in homicide, rape, and other cases involving extreme violence. Their findings document the positive impact that these programs have had not only on the lives of victims and offenders, but also on restitution payments, recidivism, and costs. They also offer research-based policy and practice guidelines to aid program planners.  Includes case studies, research study results, and an emerging typology of programs.


Yantzi, Mark. Sexual Offending and Restoration, Herald, 1998.

Mark Yantzi provides new methods for dealing with the pervasive problem of sexual abuse.  He shows caring ways to confront and support those who have offended. He also calls for understanding and compassion toward those victimized by sexual wrongdoing.  Yantzi’s unique approach is illustrated through case examples and candid dialogue by a group of victims and those who have offended.  Readers hear authentic voices and share in the process toward healing.  The book honors the words of victims, offenders, their families, and communities.


Zehr, Howard. Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime and Justice, Herald Press, 1990/1995/2012.

Crime victims have many needs, most of which our criminal justice system ignores. In fact, the justice system often increases the injury. Offenders are less ignored by this system, but their real needs–for accountability, for closure, for healing–are also left unaddressed. Such failures are not accidental, but are inherent in the very definitions and assumptions which govern our thinking about crime and justice. Howard Zehr proposes a “restorative” model which is more consistent with experience, with the past, and with the biblical tradition. Based on the needs of victims and offenders, he takes into account recent studies and biblical principles. This is the third edition of Changing Lenses, with a new Afterword by the author.


Zehr, Howard. The Little Book of Restorative Justice, Good Books, (2002) 2014.

This RJ “classic” addresses the question: “How should we as a society respond to wrongdoing?”  Howard Zehr, a leading pioneer in transforming popular understanding of justice, and one of the original developers of Restorative Justice as a concept, proposes workable Principles and Practices for making restorative justice both possible and useful. First he explores how restorative justice is different from criminal justice. Then, before letting those appealing observations drift out of reach, into theoretical space, Zehr presents Restorative Justice Practices. The 2014 edition is expanded and revised.   A 2003 version, in collaboration with Ali Gohar for the Pakistani-Afghan audience is available in full-text here: . This includes Ali’s commentary or additions in boxes with italicized text. Which may provide insights for a facilitator working with Islamic victims or offenders.

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