Why Change From the Present Justice System? Benefits and Barriers to Consider

This page is archived material and is no longer updated. It may contain outdated information and broken links. The material presented on these pages is the product of five regional symposia held on restorative justice between June 1997 and January 1998.

A lot can be learned from those who laid the groundwork in implementing early restorative justice approaches. This section outlines some of the benefits and barriers to implementing restorative justice in your community.


In assessing benefits, it is important to determine what good will come from restorative justice principles and practices. The results of a "benefit assessment" can help:

  • Developing marketing messages for various constituencies, including community members, offenders and their advocates, victims and service providers, justice practitioners, elected officials, the news media, and allied professionals.
  • Comparing existing approaches to justice in the context of a more beneficial approach, i.e. cost effectiveness, victim involvement, offender competency development, community appreciation of justice practices, etc.
  • Building programs on perceived strengths.
  • Evaluating programs, especially when benefits for these are tangible and can be measured in terms of performance outcomes.


In assessing barriers, it is important to identify all possible challenges to the implementation of restorative justice programs and practices. The results of a "barrier assessment" can assist in:

  • Early identification of potential opponents' arguments against restorative justice approaches.
  • Focusing planning and implementation on reducing or eliminating possible barriers.
  • Evaluating program effectiveness based upon success in overcoming any barriers.

It is important to note that no barrier is insurmountable. They should simply be viewed as "challenges" to be addressed up-front, and not avoided through the program planning, implementation and evaluation process.

Go to Perspectives on Restorative Justice

Date Created: December 4, 2007