Curriculum Guideline

Restorative Justice

Effective Date:
Course Code
CRIM 3376
Restorative Justice
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture and Experiential Learning: 4 hrs. per week per semester
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:  lectures, guest speakers, group work and a high degree of class participation.

Course Description
This course provides an exploration to restorative justice. The history, philosophy and strategies of restorative (transformative) justice are examined. Prevailing assumptions about crime and justice are challenged and retributive, distributive and restorative approaches are compared and contrasted. Particular attention is paid to the importance of values in restorative justice. The importance of relationships and the roles of victims, offenders, community, police and government are examined. Canadian and international examples and expressions of restorative justice programs are reviewed. Consideration is given to evaluation and assessment of restorative justice initiatives and attempts to co-opt restorative justice for purposes inconsistent with the philosophy.
Course Content
  1. The Philosophical Shift to Restorative Justice
    • The values and philosophy and retributive justice.
    • Shifting the view from crime against “the state.”
    • Viewing crime as a violation of people and interpersonal relationships.
    • Broadening the view of victim and including all those affected.
    • Healing and putting right the wrongs.
    • Focusing on restoring, balancing and reintegrating, not punishing, wounding, separating.
  2. Basic Principles of Restorative Justice
    • Identifying and defining the stakeholders - offender, victim, and community.
    • Maximizing input and opportunity for communication.
    • Defining roles and responsibilities of stakeholders.
    • Obliging the offender.
    • Empowering the victim.
    • Involving the community.
  3. The History of Restorative Justice
    • Religious roots of restorative justice.
    • First nations and restorative justice.
    • International aboriginal initiatives.
    • Entering the mainstream 1970s to the explosion of programs in the 1990s.
  4. Restorative Justice Strategies
    • International and Canadian examples of restorative justice programs.
    • Victim offender mediation.
    • Family group conferencing.
    • Peacemaking circles.
    • Circle sentencing.
    • Community courts.
  5. Government Involvement
    • Current and proposed government programs and initiatives.
    • Legislative and policy guidelines for restorative justice at both provincial and federal levels.
    • Positioning the police.
  6. Assessing and Evaluating the Effectiveness of Restorative Justice Programs
    • Research and evaluating restorative justice programs.
    • Guarding against co-opting restorative justice for punitive ends, undue offender orientation, expansion of social control or budget cut backs.
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:


  1. Compare and contrast retributive and restorative justice, describing the faith and value basis of each paradigm.
  2. Describe the history of the restorative justice movement.
  3. Identify the central principles of restorative justice.
  4. Explain the roles of the victim, the offender and the community in restorative justice.
  5. Explain the role of the police and government in restorative justice.
  6. Describe victim offender mediation processes.
  7. Describe the victim offender reconciliation process.
  8. Describe circle sentencing.
  9. Describe family group conferencing.
  10. Describe peacemaking circles.
  11. Identify current initiatives in restorative justice both in Canada and elsewhere.
  12. Describe the role of religion in restorative justice.
  13. Discuss the process and tools for assessing and evaluating restorative justice programs.
  14. Recognize the ways in which restorative justice is co-opted for social control, for punitive ends and for budget constraint.
  15. Recognize the depth of restorative justice as a paradigm shift rather than a program through full participation in the course activities.
  16. Improve communication skills through participation in circles and class/group exercises.
Means of Assessment

The evaluation will be based on the course objectives and in accordance with Douglas College policy.  The instructor will provide specific evaluation requirements to the student at the beginning of the semester.  Students may be required to complete in-class examinations, student presentations, essays, term papers, journal entries and comprehensive final examinations. Part of each class will be conducted in a workshop or experiential learning format requiring participation. An example of one possible evaluation scheme would be:

Participation and attendance  15%
Midterm #1  25%
Midterm #2  25%
Term paper and presentation    25%
Final Quiz  10%
Total 100%



Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students:


Texts will be updated periodically.  Typical examples are:

Zehr, Howard, The Little Book of Restorative Justice, Intercourse, Pennsylvania:  Good Books, 2002.


Healing River: Tributary Streams Edition. Multimedia DVD/CD Package, 2007.


Karen Strong and Daniel Van Ness, Restoring Justice (4th edition), New Providence, LexisNexis, 2010.