Glossary Of Restorative Justice Terms

Accountability: “The quality or state of being accountable;especially:  an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions”[xi]Alienation: “the act of alienating, or of causing someone to become indifferent or hostile 2. The state of being alienated, withdrawn, or isolated from the objective world, as through indifference or disaffection 3. The act of turning away, transferring, or diverting”[xii]

Crime: “A crime is a wrongdoing classified by the state or Congress as a felony or misdemeanor. A crime is an offence against a public law. This word, in its most general sense, includes all offenses, but in its more limited sense is confined to felony.”[ix]

Harm: “Anything that impairs or adversely affects the safety of patients in clinical care, drug therapy, research investigations, or public health.”[xviii]

Healing:1. the process of returning to health; the restoration of structure and function of injured or diseased tissues. The healing processes include blood clotting, tissue mending, scarring, and bone healing. 2. the process of helping someone return to health; compassion by a health care provider is part of this. Authentic perception of the experience of illness in the particular person is the essential basis.”[xv]

Inclusivity: “An intention or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as the handicapped, learning-disabled, or racial and sexual minorities”[xix]

Justice: “ The process or result of using laws to fairly judge and punish crimes and criminals”[iii]

Juvenile delinquency: “The Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act defines juvenile delinquency (any act that is othewise a crime, but is committed by someone under 18 years of age) and sets forth rules by which state laws must comply with regard to juvenile court procedures and punishments.”[iv]

Offender: “an accused defendant in a criminal case or one convicted of a crime.”[xx]

Punishment: “The imposition of hardship in response to misconduct.”[xiii]


Recidivism: “Recidivism is one of the most fundamental concepts in criminal justice. It refers to a person’s relapse into criminal behavior, often after the person receives sanctions or undergoes intervention for a previous crime. Recidivism is measured by criminal acts that resulted in rearrest, reconviction or return to prison with or without a new sentence during a three-year period following the prisoner’s release.”[ii]

Reconciliation: “1. The restoration of friendly relations 2. The action of making one view or belief compatible with another.”[xxii]

Rehabilitation: “The process of rehabilitating a witness involves restoring the credibility of the witness following impeachment by the opposing party. Rehabilitating a prisoner refers to preparing him or her for a productive life upon release from prison.”[xvii]

Restitution: “1) returning to the proper owner property or the monetary value of loss. Sometimes restitution is made part of a judgment in negligence and/or contracts cases. 2) In criminal cases, one of the penalties imposed is return of stolen goods to the victim or payment to the victim for harm caused. Restitution may be a condition of granting defendant probation or giving him/her a shorter sentence than normal.”[vii]

Restoration: “1. The act of restoring; renewal, revival, or reestablishment. 2. The state or fact of being restored. 3. A return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition. 4. Restitution of something taken away or lost. 5. Something that is restored, as by renovating.”[xiv]

Restorative Justice: “Restorative justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things right as possible.”[i]

Retribution: “That which is given to another to recompense him for what has been received from him; as a rent for the hire of a house. 2. A salary paid to a person for his services. 3. The distribution of rewards and punishments.”[vi]

Transgressions: “An act of transgressing; violation of law, command, etc…” [xxiii]

Trauma: Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. While these feelings are normal, some people have difficulty moving on with their lives. Psychologists can help these individuals find constructive ways of managing their emotions.”[x]

Treatment: “1. The management and care of a patient 2. The combating of a disease or disorder”[xvi]

Victim: “A person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.”[xxi]

Vindication: “1. The act of vindicating or the condition of being vindicated 2. A means of exoneration from an accusation 3. A fact, evidence, circumstance, etc, that serves to vindicate a theory or claim”[viii]

Youth courts: “Youth court programs strive to nurture in youth a respect for the rule of law, help develop positive citizenship attitudes, encourage civic engagement, and promote educational success through a diversity of service learning opportunities, strategies and activities. Youth courts are structured to provide positive alternative sanctions for first-time offenders by providing a peer-driven sentencing mechanism that allows young people to take responsibility, to be held accountable, and to make restitution. Positive peer pressure is used in youth courts to exert influence over adolescent behavior.”[v]


[i] Zehr, Howard. 2002. “Defining Restorative Justice.” Pg.37 in The Little Book of Restorative Justice, Good Books Intercourse, PA.

[ii] “Recidivism | National Institute of Justice.”

[iii] “Justice | Definition of Justice by Merriam-Webster.”

[iv] “Juvenile Justice | Wex Legal Dictionary / Encyclopedia | LII / Legal Information Institute.”

[v] “Significance of Youth Courts | Youth Court.”

[vi] “Retribution.” The Free Dictionary, n.d.

[vii] “Restitution.”

[viii] “Vindication | Define Vindication at”

[ix] “Legal Definition of Crime.”

[x] “Trauma.”

[xi] “Accountability | the Quality or State of Being Accountable Especially : An Obligation or Willingness to Accept Responsibility or to Account for One’s Actions.”

[xii] “Accountability | the Quality or State of Being Accountable Especially : An Obligation or Willingness to Accept Responsibility or to Account for One’s Actions.”

[xiii] “Punishment.”

[xiv] “Restoration” | Define Restoration at”

[xv] “Healing”

[xvi] “Treatment.”

[xvii] “Rehabilitation.”

[xviii] “Harm.”

[xix] “Inclusivity” – Dictionary Definition of Inclusivity | FREE Online Dictionary.”

[xx] “Offender.”

[xxi] “Victim” – Definition of Victim in English from the Oxford Dictionary.”

[xxii] “Reconciliation” – Definition of Reconciliation in English from the Oxford Dictionary.”

[1] “Transgression | Define Transgression at”