The Origins of Restorative Justice

There’s nothing faddish or new about restorative justice. It’s been around for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years in all but name. Native cultures, such as Aboriginals, Maori and Native Americans used restorative practices to resolve conflict and to bring about a justice that healed. Sweat lodges, vision quests, pipe ceremonies, sentencing circles, are all part of a process that looks at what has happened, how what has happened has affected the community, and what needed to happen to bring healing to that situation.

Where do we think circle time in school came from? Even Anglo-Saxon communities, once upon a time, recognised victims when crime had been committed, until the reign of Henry I marked the beginning of changes in the UK. By the end of the 11th Century, following the Norman invasion of Britain in 1066, retributive justice began to replace this system and crime was no longer seen primarily as injurious to people, but rather, was seen as an offence against the state.