The combination of powerful movements, political advocacy, and decades of incremental justice reforms have pushed national conversations to move away from punitive criminal legal system responses and closer to healing and wellbeing. Now more than ever, there is a need to invest in community-held alternatives that can hold and address harms, build accountability, and promote a restorative path forward.
At this critical time in our country, the Restorative Justice Project is working to shift the paradigm from seeing crime as a violation of the law to understanding crime as harm that requires individual, interpersonal, community, and system-wide accountability and healing. Through our approach of restorative justice diversion, survivors have a voice in their healing process and people who have caused harm are accountable for the harm they’ve caused without being pushed into the juvenile or criminal legal systems.
Who we are
We are a diverse team of experienced restorative justice facilitators and criminal legal system change-makers committed to building pathways toward healing, safety, and wellbeing for communities across the country, especially communities of color disproportionately impacted by the criminal legal system.
Our team is led by two Black women who have both spent more than a decade working to shift away from punitive criminal legal system practices and build community-held, restorative solutions to address harm. Across the team, we are a group of vibrant, passionate, dedicated people who support our national network of partners to implement restorative justice diversion programs in their communities.
Find out more about each of our dynamic Restorative Justice Project team members on the Impact Justice team page.
What we do
The Restorative Justice Project at Impact Justice leads the expansion of restorative justice diversion (RJD) programs across the country through our direct training and technical assistance and the development of our National Training and Innovation Center. We support partners across the country to develop programs that address harms through dialogue among those most impacted, and are held by leaders and organizations in the communities most affected by the criminal legal system. These dialogues include community and family members with a focus on developing a strengths-based plan to repair the harm, encourage accountability, and support those impacted to move forward in a restorative way.
Knowing that referrals to typical diversion programs often replicate the same racial disparities known to plague the criminal legal system overall, our model of restorative justice diversion is explicitly designed to stem this practice. We ensure that offenses and neighborhoods driving the highest number of criminal legal system referrals for youth of color are prioritized for our RJD programs.
Additionally, our model fills the gap in diversion services widely available across the country by ensuring that our model of restorative justice diversion specifically targets high-level misdemeanor and felony offenses where there is an identifiable person(s) harmed. While most justice reform efforts have focused on diversion options for low-level offenses, this can actually lead to an increase in recidivism. Our RJD model is an intensive process designed to address serious harms, which is not appropriate for low-level crimes.
Since 2011, we’ve provided training and technical assistance to sites across the country, with additional sites being added every year. Our National Restorative Justice Diversion cohort includes community-based organizations and leaders from the criminal and juvenile legal systems who are working with us to introduce pre-charge restorative justice diversion programs to meet survivors’ needs without reliance on youth criminalization.
Visit our Resources page for more information about restorative justice.
Shifting the Paradigm
We’re shifting the paradigm from seeing crime as a violation of the law to understanding crime as harm that requires individual, interpersonal, community, and system-wide accountability and healing.
Restorative Justice Diversion
We provide training and technical assistance to community-based organizations and systems partners to introduce pre-charge restorative justice diversion programs as an alternative to youth incarceration.
While we continue to support the development of RJD programs in a growing number of communities, we are also investing in shared learning, connection, and relationship building among all of our restorative justice diversion partners across the nation. We are also excited to reach many more communities and foster new spaces for connections through our Training and Innovation Center.