Restorative Justice

Spring 2004

University of Denver College of Law

This seminar will examine the philosophy and practice of Restorative Justice.

Restorative Justice, which is also sometimes called Balanced and Restorative Justice, is an approach to criminal justice.  Central to the practice of Restorative Justice is a conception of crime as harm to the community.  The goals of Restorative Justice include holding the offender accountable for the harm to the community, repairing that harm to the extent possible, and developing competency in the offender so that the offender makes better future choices.  Accountability, repair of harm, and development of future competency take place within mediated processes that balance the concerns of the victim, offender, and community.

The first part of the course will involve reading and class discussions. The readings will include comparison of the Restorative approach to other current models of criminal justice.  The readings will also examine Restorative Justice approaches to different types of crime, including juvenile justice, for example.  We will survey a variety of different Restorative Justice techniques.  In addition to reading, the seminar will include first-hand looks at the practice of Restorative Justice in Denver.;  In Denver, for example, seminar participants will examine the practice of Restorative Justice in Community Justice Councils and in the Denver Community Court.  As well, we will explore faith-based approaches to community justice. 

As we examine the practice of Restorative Justice, one area of particular concern will be the practical and political problems in implementing a model of Restorative Justice.

Students will complete a paper of 30-40 pages in length. This paper may address philosophical or theoretical issues associated with Restorative Justice and/or may be a field study of the practice of Restorative Justice.

© Thomas D. Russell 2014