Listening Topic: Law – Interview about restorative justice

A. Listen to the interview about restorative justice. Then answer the question.

What are the two main aims of restorative justice? Mark the correct answers.

___ To punish the offender

___ To make the offender take responsibility for the crime

___ To keep the offender out of prison

___ To send the offender to prison

___ To restore the victim of a crime

B. Listen to the interview again. Write T for true or F for false for each statement. Correct the false statements. Listen again if necessary.

1   According to the radio program, many people commit crimes again after they have spent time in prison.

 Restorative justice focuses on punishing the offender.

 In a typical restorative justice program, the offender must do something to make up for the damage that has been done.

 According to Robert Sherman, some criminals do not feel responsibility for the damage they cause.

 Victims often feel more afraid after they meet the offenders.

 Restorative justice programs are particularly effective with young people.

 Restorative justice is only used in the United States.

 Restorative justice systems have been used by traditional societies.



___ To punish the offender

__ To make the offender take responsibility for the crime

___ To keep the offender out of prison

___ To send the offender to prison

__ To restore the victim of a crime


1   T

2   F (Restorative justice focuses on restoring the victim.)

3   T

4   T

5   F (Victims often feel less afraid after they meet the offenders.)

6   T

7   F (Restorative justice is used in countries all over the world.)

8   T


A = Radio Host, B = Robert Sherman

A:   Nowadays it often seems like the traditional approach to justice isn’t working. People who are convicted of crimes go to prison, but when they’re released, they often commit the same, or worse, crimes all over again. Today we’re going to hear about an alternative to prison for dealing with crime. It’s called restorative justice. My guest is Robert Sherman. Welcome to the program.

B:   Thank you.

A:   First of all, what is restorative justice?

B:   Well, it’s a different way of dealing with crime. The word restorative comes from the verb to restore, and the aim of restorative justice is to restore those who have been injured – to make things right for the victim and for the community. So, rather than focusing on the offender, and on like punishing him or her, restorative justice focuses on the crime. What was done? Who was hurt by it? How can we make it right? And then we get the offender involved in making it right both for the victim and for the community.

A:   Can you give me an example?

B:   Sure. Let’s say, for example, a couple of young guys go out one night and go crazy. They break into cars, throw rocks through windows, and cause a lot of damage. They are arrested and they plead guilty. But here’s the important point: instead of going to prison, the boys meet with the victims of the damage, face to face. They meet the people whose cars and property they destroyed. They have to apologize to each victim and offer to do what they can to repair the damage. For example, they might have to work for a time to pay for the broken windows.

A:   That’s a real old-fashioned way to deal with crime, isn’t it? It’s like what my parents would have done!

B:   Yes, it is. The main thing is to help the offender realize what he did and to take responsibility for causing it. And this is really important, particularly with young people. Many people working with young offenders will say this: “They just don’t feel any responsibility.”

A:   Now what about the victims? How does participating in the restorative justice process affect them?

B:   It’s often a positive experience, because it allows them to give their side of the story. In particular, it often helps victims feel less afraid. It helps to meet the offender or offenders – to put a human face on it.

A:   And does this kind of approach help to reduce crime? Does it stop people from committing crimes again?

B:   It seems to, yes. There’s research that shows that restorative justice is often more effective than the traditional court process, particularly with young offenders. They are less likely to repeat the crime, and if they do get in trouble again, their crimes are less serious.

A:   Now, is restorative justice only used in the United States? Is it an American thing?

B:   Oh no! There are different kinds of programs in different countries all over the world. One interesting point is that in some places, restorative justice programs are based on traditional systems that the people have always used. Like, for example, in New Zealand. They’re using a program called community group conferencing. That’s something that the Maori people – the original inhabitants of New Zealand – have used for years.

A:   Really?

B:   Yes. Native Americans also had a similar way of dealing with crime. So, although it’s a new movement, it’s got old roots.

A:   All right. Well, when we come back, we’ll be talking some calls from listeners, and the number to call is …

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