Restorative Justice

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
FRI 5:30 - 8:30 pm SSW 2.122
SAT 9:00 am - 5:30 pm SSW 2.122


CLASS MEETS JANUARY 17 THROUGH FEBRUARY 15 Restorative justice is a social movement and set of practices that aims to redirect society's retributive response to crime. Crime, in the context of restorative justice, is not considered just an offense against the state but rather is viewed as a wrong against another person and indicative of a broken relationship between the offender, victim, and community. Accordingly, restorative justice seeks to elevate the role of crime victims and community members; hold offenders directly accountable to the people they have violated; and restore, to the extent possible, the emotional and material losses of victims by providing a range of opportunities for dialogue, negotiation, and problem solving. This course provides an introduction and exposure to the principles of restorative justice and its application to the treatment of human suffering from crime and related social problems. It explores the needs and roles for key stakeholders (victims, offenders, communities, justice systems), examines the values and assumptions of the movement, including its spiritual and religious roots, and introduces students to some of the current programs at community, state and international levels. The framework of the course is, in part, based on social work values and the ethical decision-making process. Besides discussing its policy implications, students will evaluate the potential of restorative justice to address social problems marked by human conflict, oppression, power and harm, e.g. partner abuse, hate crimes. Finally, students will examine the empirical evidence for restorative justice, identify critical issues including gaps in theory or practice, and critique its integrity and overall direction. COURSE OBJECTIVES By the end of the semester, students will be able to 1. Demonstrate an understanding of restorative justice concepts, principles and values. 2. Recognize the trauma and emotional impact of crime on victims, communities and offenders, and ways to be responsive to the needs and interest of crime victims. 3. Explain the concept, methods and potential uses of different restorative justice practices. 4. Develop familiarity with humanistic mediation and the skills used to conduct restorative justice mediations, conferences and circles. 5. Identify the personal, interpersonal, and organizational changes necessary for implementation of restorative justice initiatives and the implications for policy and program development including stakeholder and professional roles. 6. Demonstrate familiarity with the research on restorative justice including the criteria used for assessment of restorative justice programs. 7. Critique the promise of restorative justice for producing healing, including its challenges and pitfalls. 8. Demonstrate knowledge of ethical decision-making processes as they relate to restorative justice practice. TEACHING METHODS This course is multidisciplinary and uses a collaborative teaching model that mirrors restorative justice processes. Students are expected to contribute toward building and maintaining a deeply respectful and highly participatory learning environment. Students can draw on their own life experiences, readings, classroom and field experiences. Material will be presented through a combination of lectures, videos, small group exercises, demonstrations of restorative justice practices, guest lecturers including victim panels, field trips, student presentations, and class discussions.