What is Restorative Justice?

The community model of restorative justice provides a safe and guided process aimed at allowing victims to reach an agreement with the offender in order to repair damage caused by the crime. This is accomplished through meetings that bring together victims, offenders, community representatives and any other parties harmed by the act. The meeting is held only with the consent of the victim. Offenders agree to participate and take responsibility. All participants undergo extensive preparations and receive guidance. Victims are given the opportunity to describe their experiences and participate in determining the reparation agreement so that their confidence is restored.

Mosaica addresses a range of offenses, including assault, threats, theft, robbery and vehicle accidents. The program does not accept cases of sexual assault, domestic violence or cases involving an offender who is currently an addict.

Why attempt a restorative justice process?

Restorative justice provides several advantages to all participating parties.

Benefits to victims:

  • Recognition of the harm they suffered
  • Possibility of telling the truth of what happened and describing its effect on their lives
  • Receiving answers to questions they want answered (that only the offender can provide)
  • Opportunity to express their emotions
  • Restoring self-confidence and reducing anxiety
  • Determining how the damage caused by the offense may be rectified and experiencing a sense of empowerment and return of control
  • Receiving material and/or emotional compensation
  • Opportunity to understand the wider implications of the crime

 

Benefits to offenders:

  • Recognition of the harm they caused
  • Opportunity to understand the impact of their actions on the lives of others
  • Opportunity to explain their actions
  • Opportunity to express remorse (if genuine)
  • Opportunity to take part in determining compensation
  • Opportunity to reintegrate back into the community

 

Benefits to communities:

  • Strengthening community members’ feeling of belonging to the community
  • Undergoing a peaceful approach to conflict resolution
  • Addressing the needs of victims and offenders
  • Improving the community effectiveness in handling problems
  • Discussing community values and its specific context in the case being addressed
  • Reducing crime

When should the restorative justice process be initiated?

When the indictment is submitted (or just prior to its submittal).

Who are the program facilitators?

Restorative justice facilitators are volunteers with various professional backgrounds that were accepted to the Mosaica program after completing specialized academic and practical training. They come from a variety of backgrounds, including law, social work and education.

Who refers and is referred to the restorative justice program?

Any person may make a request to initiate and manage a restorative justice process after meeting the following conditions:

  • An indictment has been submitted or has been drafted.
  • The court or the prosecution and defense have agreed to begin the process.
  • The offender accepts responsibility for his/her actions and wishes to rectify the damage caused by his wrongdoing.

 

The program is operated collaboratively and receives referrals from the courts, the prosecution and defense attorneys.

What happens if the process fails?

If the dispute is not resolved, the case continues to be dealt with by the appropriate legal bodies.

It is important to note that after the process has been initiated, the offender may not pursue evidentiary proceedings in court that establish guilt, a commitment irrespective of the outcome of the restorative justice process. The program does not provide information given during the process to law enforcement officials and all information which is revealed during the process is confidential.

How is the process conducted?

The program is based on a model of restorative justice that brings together the victim, offender, their supporters and community representatives. The basic view is that criminal acts impact not only the victim and offender, but also have a broader impact on the community. Therefore, the community may play a role in settling conflicts and helping the involved parties.

 

The process includes preparations with each side. Generally, an initial meeting is held with the offender to determine whether he is an appropriate candidate. If found suitable, victims are contacted and offered an opportunity to meet with the restorative justice facilitator and to get more detailed information about the process. If all agree to move forward, meetings are held separately with the victims and the offenders, as well as community representatives, all in preparation for the joint meeting ahead.

One should note that preparations are designed to address the specific needs of participants and often require more than one individual meeting.

How much does it cost?

This service is provided at no cost as a community service.

What language is used?

Hebrew, Arabic, English, French

Examples of restorative justice

Levi, a 76-year-old grandfather, went to the ATM one evening to withdraw cash, as he was used to doing on a regular basis. Shimon, a 20-year-old man, approached Levi, shoved him, grabbed the cash and then ran away. Levi was hurt, stunned and angry. He subsequently developed acute emotional distress, concerned that he could now no longer afford the medications he needed for that month. After the incident, he began reconsidering every time he needed to leave his home and felt a constant sense of fear and helplessness when outside. Shimon was arrested, questioned and a robbery indictment against him was filed in the district court. Levi was listed as a witness. In the restorative justice process – Levi, Shimon, their supporters and community representatives met. Shimon apologized and took responsibility for his actions. Levi and Shimon together decided to deal with the implications of the robbery and agreed on suitable reparations. Shimon returned the money he stole and began volunteering in the neighborhood senior citizens club. The community director, who was also a community representative in the process, understood the difficulties facing the elderly population in the neighborhood and decided to improve the lighting in public areas in the evenings. The agreement was submitted to the court where Shimon was prosecuted. The court took into consideration the restorative justice agreement made when deciding his punishment.

Example 2:

Yulia, an immigrant from Russia, attended a boarding school in central Israel. On the school bus home, she asked the driver, Moshe, to make a stop so that she could smoke. Moshe refused and an argument erupted between the two. During one of the stops, the verbal violence escalated to physical violence by Moshe. Yulia filed a complaint to the police. Moshe was fired, his public vehicle driving license was revoked, and an indictment was filed against him for assault of a minor, bodily harm, and making threats. He was very hurt and upset by this but accepted responsibility for his actions and requested a meeting with Yulia to apologize and provide reparations. Mosaica’s restorative justice facilitators met with each of the parties separately. Yulia, now an IDF soldier, agreed to meet with Moshe. In addition to having the opportunity to agree on reparations, the two could also clarify the circumstances of the event.

 

The meeting was held at Mosaica with the supervision of two restorative justice facilitators. Moshe, the driver, was accompanied by his wife and a friend. Yulia was accompanied by the boarding school house mother and a personal counselor, a police officer and a community representative who had previously been a school bus driver. Dani, Moshe childhood friend, explained that “the meeting began with a lot of tension. The offender sat with his arms crossed, and everyone was on edge. I understood that the stress of such a process can be even worse than a court proceeding, and that a meeting designed for reconciliation is not simple…”

During the meeting, each party had the opportunity to tell their story and describe the impact of the event on their lives. Then the supporters were asked to address the event. Among other statements, Yulia’s supporter rebuked Moshe’s behavior and described the ongoing emotional distress that Yulia has undergone as a result of this behavior. Moshe’s wife expressed her sorrow for the event and noted that this behavior was very unusual for him: “We’re all just people. I hope that together we can find a way to understand and forgive.”

 

At this point, Yulia was asked to describe what she wanted in reparations. After consulting her supporters, Yulia asked for a written apology and monetary compensation to be determined by the offender. Moshe provided her a written letter of apology that he had prepared ahead of the meeting, unrelated to the final agreement. The letter was read aloud. It was an emotional experience for Yulia and all present.

 

Moshe consulted his supporters and after reviewing several proposals with Yulia, decided to provide 1,500 ILS in reparations. The parties came to an agreement, including the apology and check installment payments to Yulia. At this point, Yulia surprisingly turned to Moshe and his wife and expressed sorrow and shame for the damages caused to Moshe due to the event. The process ended on a note of relief and reconciliation. The victim asserted that a weight had been lifted. The offender remarked that he had learned a life lesson. Dani summarized by saying that “the best conclusion of the process is to see the victim talking to the offender and his wife, laughing with them, and hitching a ride with them to the bus station, something inconceivable when the meeting started. Hard to believe that 3.5 hours ago (the length of the process), you could cut the tension in the room with a knife, and now everyone is leaving calm and smiling, an outcome that would never have happened in court, not for the victim or the offender…”

 

For additional information: Restorative Justice Program