Restorative Justice: Solution for Overpopulated Prisons and Overloaded Court Cases

Restorative Justice: Solution for Overpopulated Prisons and Overloaded Court Cases

Trynh Phoraksa

        When any crime happens, law officers or power holders in the justice system usually pay attention to analysis of the actions whether they are wrong or right, hunting the culprits, and interpreting the cases which can lead to ignorance of other ramifications and consequences caused by these actions. The victims should be the main focus too. They need healing, compensation, and closure. The justice system usually drives the victims from the system and labels them as the marginalized people in the justice system. This is widely different from crime procedures in the ancient time.

            The mainstream justice system for individuals in the old world depended on restorative justice unlike the modern justice system. This system evaluates compensation that offenders should make up for victims not the level of crime punishment. When a crime case happens, the offenders should make up to victims instead of paying fines to the court. In modern times, the relationship changes from offenders and victims to the state and offenders. The offenders have to be more responsible to the state compared to the victims. This kind of mistake between the state and offenders should be changed from vengeance to restorative justice. [1] The crime issues are not just against the state or the overall peace. They affect personal relationships between offenders and victims and communities. Every involved party should play their part to fix these problems on the whole aiming to restore peace and order by non-judgemental and restorative methods.

            The justice system in Thailand has one dimension that portrays criminals as people who break the law that the state wrote under its rightful power. The officers involved only focus on the cases and consequences. However, restorative justice offers means to solve criminal conflicts for Thai society. Due to its restorative functions, it can build rapport between victims, offenders, and communities. Restorative justice shows a fresh perspective that crime is a conflict between individuals consisting of victims and offenders. Therefore, solving crime issues by restorative justice is the collaboration between these two sides. [2]

            The mainstream justice system completely excludes crime from the process by focusing on arrest and suppression, ignoring the victim side. The victims are just marginalized and somehow unheard in the justice system. Conversely, restorative justice offers chances for victims to have rights to speak up and state their opinions about the involved incidents. This can be developed into compassion and eventual forgiveness. These fine qualities can lead to peace and order for communities and possibly society on the whole. For offenders, they have chances to show responsibility and remorse for their actions which are the key factor for their acceptance into society.As a result, They can rebuild and start anew. These opportunities and forgiveness can be their turning point that leads to lower repeat offense rate. They will understand that society has given them another chance to redeem themselves. Moreover, the conflicted members of society will be treated and healed by resonating between the offenders and the victims. There shall be representatives that help align the middle ground for both parties. They can also provide preventative measures and lessons from the previous criminal incidents.

            The source by the Vermont Community Justice Centers [3] revealed four advantages of communities that practiced restorative justice as follows. 1. Reduced repeat offense rate. From tracking of restorative justice, most feedback is well received. People and offenders teamed up to treat the conflicts and reach satisfying conclusions resulting in a subsequently lower crime rate. The offenders received forgiveness and no stigma. They could begin their journey to redeem themselves. 2. Increased security in communities. Each community watched out for one another. This greatly improves overall security. 3. Reduced costs of the justice process. Restorative justice redirects justice from the mainstream system without judging the cases. However, they rely on communities to help process the cases. Each community solves conflicts between offenders and victims. 4. Strengthen communities.

            The advantages for the victim side are these following. Firstly, victims have the right to show their demand or ask for aid from their community or the justice system. Secondly, there can be a discussion that explains their struggles, fear, anxiety ,and answers and compensation they seek from offenders. Lastly, victims will receive compensation and closure that they need.

            There are four advantages for offenders as follows. Firstly they have chances to redeem themselves by making up with victims. Restorative justice allows them to compensate directly to the victims and their communities. Secondly, restorative justice allows offenders to leave their past behind and start fresh. They can eventually live with dignity. Next, restorative justice has a relatively fast process compared to its mainstream counterpart. Lastly, it has a high success rate due to deals between offenders and victims. After the deals are successful, offenders are likely to reduce their opportunities to commit crime again.

            When communitions can bring offenders and victims together to resolve their issues, restorative justice can sort out criminal cases from the mainstream justice system, reducing court cases in the process. The costs are relatively reduced. The issue of overloaded cases can be eventually solved if citizens learn to understand restorative justice thoroughly.

            Restorative justice has a direct impact on the decrease of new inmates if it is successful in dealing with offenders and victims. These conflicts can be solved without depending on the justice system.  The offenders can repent and compensate for their actions, and prove themselves to society again. Eventually, successful deals will definitely lower the population in prisons.


[1]Ploernta Tunrungsan .Restorative Justice and Juvenile Crime.Junniti (2010, May-June): 54-62

[2] Jutarat Aeraumnuay. (2004).  Restorative Justice : Alternative to Solve Conflicts in Justice System for Thai People. Dullapah (2008,May-August)

[3] Community Justice Network of Vermont.Benefits of Restorative Justice.[Online].2018. Source : 3]

บันทึกนี้เขียนที่ GotoKnow โดย  ใน Trynh Phoraksa(Ph.D.)-Criminologist

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