Restorative Justice is an approach to education defined as:

Justice: Honors the inherent worth of all. It is enacted through relationships. Primary justice, sometimes called social justice, is the condition of respect, dignity, and the protection of rights and opportunities for all, existing in relationships where no one was wronged. Secondary, or judicial justice, is understood mainly as a response to crime or harm.

Restorative: An adjective, for primary and secondary justice, that describes how an individual's or group's dignity, worth, and interconnectedness will be nurtured, protected, or re-established in ways that will allow people to be fully contributing members of their communities.

— Evans and Vaandering, 2016

Restorative Practices: Promote values and principles that use inclusive, collaborative approaches for being in community.

These approaches validate the experiences and needs of everyone within the community, particularly those who have been marginalized, oppressed, or harmed. These approaches allow us to act and respond in ways that are healing rather than alienating or coercive.

— Amstutz and Mullet, 2015

Community-Build Circles: Originating from Indigenous cultures are intentional spaces where the core beliefs and values of restorative justice are practiced, experienced, and embodied.

Physically, a group sits in circle and, with the guidance of a facilitator or "circle keeper, " discusses agreed-upon topics in a manner where each person is given an opportunity to share. An object of meaning for the group (e.g., a stone, a plant, a stuffed toy, etc.), usually referred to as a "talking piece, " is passed from person to person around the circle to indicate who holds the space. People are invited to share, pass, or hold a time of silence when the piece comes to them. The circle, which has no beginning or end, symbolically illustrates that all present are valued as significant and that insights shared are held respectfully within that space.

— Evans and Vaandering, 2016

Restorative Conference: Formal, structured, facilitated meeting to address serious conflict between a Respondent/sand Complainant/s where affected parties and their supporters address the consequences of a crime or wrongdoing and decide how best to repair the harm.

Restorative Questions:

  1. What happened?
  2. Who has been affected and how?
  3. What are their needs?
  4. What can be done to repair the harm? / Whose obligations are these?

Restorative Conversation: A voluntary conversation between two or more parties in low-level conflict driven by restorative questions.

Affective communication: The ability to express your personal feelings in response to others' behaviors.

Cognitive empathy: The ability to perceive and therefore identify & state the emotion of another.

Transformative justice is a social movement that has gathered momentum over the last few decades. The transformative justice movement is similar to Restorative Justice, as it:

  • Centers safety, agency, and healing
  • Accountability and transformation of those who abuse and cause harm
  • Community response and accountability
  • Transformation of social conditions that produce oppression, domination, and violence

Transformative justice straws on many of the practices employed in restorative justice, such as community-building and conferencing. However, transformative justice is distinct in two ways.

"First, transformative justice is community-centered and self-sustaining and therefore strives to develop processes for healing and accountability that do not rely on state systems (prison-industrial complex, criminal justice, immigration, policing, etc.).

Second, transformative justice is focused on not only the incident that manifest harm, but also the social conditions of oppression and domination that sustain the structures that perpetuate incidents of violence."

– Adapted from Kaba and Shira Hassan (2019)

Invitation to Add Terminology (e.g., TJ)

This glossary of terms is offered not as a summary, but as a launch point. We welcome your insights into the terms that would offer a more complete catalog of the rich diversity of cultures, traditions, and languages that together form the restorative justice universe.