What Are the Disadvantages of Restorative Justice?

The disadvantages of restorative justice include possible breaches of confidentiality, the inability to prevent recidivism and the potential for uneven or discriminating outcomes for sentencing and restitution. Restorative justice encourages perpetrators of crimes to repair or restore the harm they created, thereby making their victims “whole.”

For restorative justice to work, criminals and their victims must communicate about the crime and its consequences. Since violent crimes often leave victims feeling helpless and vulnerable, encouraging communication can result in increased anxiety and fear. Additionally, communication might breach confidentiality for victims of violent crimes, such as rape and assault, because they must discuss the outcome of the crime and how it has impacted them.

Opponents of restorative justice contend that the practice does not decrease the rate of recidivism among violent offenders. Statistics show that criminals who participate in restorative justice are less likely to re-offend, but the system is not perfect.

Additionally, some feel that criminals are not punished equally or fairly under the restorative justice philosophy. This depends on the type of crime, the age of the offender and the venue for sentencing. For example, restorative justice is applied differently outside the court system than in it, and it is used differently in juvenile courts than adult courts.