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Judge Ben Burkemper recently presented on topic of “Restorative Justice: A New (Old) Way of Dealing with Crime and Harm” for Professional Development Day in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. The event was sponsored by the Saint Louis University School of Social Work and took place at Cardinal Rigali Center in St. Louis.
Restorative justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific criminal offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things right. Restorative justice is not a replacement for the criminal justice system. However, restorative justice does not meet the needs of those involved in the criminal justice system by providing a forum for victims to talk about the impact of the crime, to obtain information, and for the harm to begin to be repaired. It provides a forum for the offender to recognize that there is a victim, to hear what harm was caused by their actions, to respond to the harm and to help repair it. Restorative Justice also provides a forum for the community to be involved in responding to crime to support the victims and to reintegrate offenders into the community. Meeting those needs and repairing the harm has meant greater victim satisfaction and lower offender re-offense rates that the traditional criminal justice system. Those results have translated to safer communities and greater costs savings as well.
Restorative justice has been utilized in specific juvenile delinquency cases in the 45th Judicial Circuit since 2004. Restorative justice practices have been utilized in the adult criminal realm in Lincoln County through the use of victim-offender mediation and a community accountability board beginning in 2012. If anyone has any questions regarding restorative justice and its practices, please contact Denise DeRienzo Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist at 636-528-0329.