Restorative Justice

Restorative justice is a philosophy or approach to harm that focuses on repairing relationships and is consistent with Catholic teaching. Restorative practices can be applied in various types of ministry to the incarcerated as well as individuals and communities harmed by crime.

Looking for ministries involved in this work?

What is restorative justice?

Restorative Justice is a way of understanding crime in terms of the people and relationships that were harmed, rather than the law that was broken. It is rooted in values of human dignity, right-relationship, healing, accountability, and encounter, consistent with Catholic Social Teaching.

Restorative practices are formal or informal processes that allow those most directly impacted by a crime (victims, offenders, and communities) to determine ways to repair the harm that was done. Examples of restorative justice include circle process, victim-offender dialogue, and community conferencing. 

It is painful when we see people who think that only others need to be cleansed, purified, and do not recognize that their weariness, pain, and wounds are also the weariness, pain, and wounds of society.
- Pope Francis -
curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia

How does restorative justice help?

Some outcomes that are typically associated with restorative justice processes include: 

  • Higher levels of satisfaction in the process among victims as compared to the traditional justice system. 
  • Smoother reintegration into society and lower rates of recidivism among formerly incarcerated individuals. 
  • More positive experiences of trauma healing and resilience among individuals and communities involved in the processes. 

Featured Resource

Catholic Prison Ministries Coalition recommends the Catholic Mobilizing Network as our featured resource to learn more about Restorative Justice. 

On Restorative Justice

Paths of Renewed Encounter: A Restorative Justice Engagement Guide for Catholic Communities

Catholic Mobilizing Network

Harm, Healing, and Human Dignity: A Catholic Encounter with Restorative Justice (Liturgical Press, 2019)

Adapted by Caitlin Morneau 

Restorative Justice Ministry Certification

Catholic Extension in partnership with Institute for Pastoral Studies at Loyola University Chicago

Harm, Healing, and Human Dignity: An All-Virtual Catholic Conference on Restorative Justice: Collected Conference Resources

Catholic Mobilizing Network

2020 Restorative Justice Month Prayer

The Archdiocese of San Francisco: Restorative Justice Ministry

Restorative Justice: Healing, Advocacy, and Education

By the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative (JRJI)

Restorative Justice: A Marianist Guide for Groups

By the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative

Redemption and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Restorative Justice (Liturgical Press, 2017)

By David Matzko McCarthy, Trudy D. Conway, and Vicky Schieber, Editors

What is Restorative Justice? One Pager

USCCB writings on criminal justice and restorative justice

Find a Circle Trainer

Restorative Justice 101

By Restorative Justice Coalition of Oregon