RJ Policy and Practice

Restorative Justice has become a popular buzzword in criminal justice reform and in the field of education. Following the release of reports on the school-to-prison pipeline (LINK) and the high cost of youth detention (LINK), some schools and court systems turned to Restorative Justice to address these concerns.

While the term Restorative Justice occurs in several areas in our state’s legal code, the Utah legislature has not yet adopted a definition of Restorative Justice. Without a clear definition to guide implementation, programs termed “restorative” may, in practice, be far from it.


Despite good intentions, programs may not yield desired results such as decreasing schools suspension rates and reducing criminal recidivism. Experience and data tell us the positive impacts of RJ on behavior management issues and school climate are only evidenced when restorative justice practices are implemented with fidelity to core values, principles, and standards of practice. For example, a recent study of restorative practices in several Utah school districts showed mixed results, in large part due to implementation factor

MMC Community Conversations:

Learn more about our Community Conversations program.

Restorative Practices in the Community

Living and working in a community is about relationships–between individuals, neighbors, civic organizations, law enforcement, small businesses, landlords/tenants, and academic institutions.  We need to work together to create a thriving and positive community.  Restorative practice approaches can be used proactively to build strong, positive relationships and prevent conflict and harmful behavior.  This is often done using a basic restorative practice, the Circle. A Circle is a highly structured intentional space designed to build relationships by promoting community.  MMC has a cadre of experienced Circle facilitators that can develop and lead Circles to strengthen relationships and build community within these groups- prior to conflict and harmful behavior occurring.


Restorative Justice in the Justice System

After harm has occurred, Mountain Mediation Center can bring together victims, offenders, and affected community members to talk about what happened. Rather than simply punishing the offender, the restorative justice process brings together the victim, offender, and affected community to talk about what happened, who was impacted, and how to move forward. This often results in a greater sense of accountability and awareness on the part of the offender. 

Restorative Practices in Schools

Mountain Mediation Center is committed to assisting local schools in implementing restorative practices.  Restorative practices are used proactively to build relationships and a sense of community within classrooms before any harm has occurred. Students will learn the importance of accountability and empathy as well as effective communication skills.  Since conflict is inevitable, students also learn conflict resolution skills and how to repair harm once it has occurred.  Replacing the traditional punitive form of discipline with restorative practices in schools can help promote self-esteem and collaborative problem-solving among students. Research has shown that the implementation of restorative practices in schools is effective in interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline, a national trend where minority students are funneled out of public schools into the juvenile justice system at disproportionate rates, resulting in lower graduation rates for this group.

Translate »