17. Restorative, Transformative Justice

We, the authors of this chapter, were both raised on the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation, Katzie, and Kwantlen First Nation (colonially known as Surrey, British Columbia). We were also both the first in our families to either attend a post-secondary institution or to complete a university degree.

Dr. Alana Abramson, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Positionality Statement 

I, Alana Marie Abramson, am of British, Romanian, Metis, and Cree descent. I had challenges during my teens that brought me in conflict with the law as a victim of violence and as an offender. On my journey, I have also experienced homelessness, foster care, and substance misuse.  The tribulations of my youth and the privilege I was born into have both facilitated my education and career and inspired my critique of the current criminal legal system. I was fortunate to meet a caring professor during my undergrad who encouraged the growth of potential I was yet aware of. She and other mentors helped me process shame and trauma from my past and cultivated my passion for creative and healing ways to address harm such as restorative, transformative justice.

Melissa Roberts, M.A., Langara College

Positionality Statement 

I, Melissa Leanne Roberts, am of English, Welsh, and German descent. While I did not come from a wealthy family, my siblings and I were well taken care of and lived with stable housing, a two-parent household, and with all the necessities of life. We were encouraged to pursue our dreams and seek careers that are supportive and enable us to be contributing members of society.  It was during my post-secondary education that I was exposed to ideas that challenged me to question why the world is the way it is and what it ought to look like instead.  Taking a single class changed the trajectory of my life: from pursuing a graduate degree focused on restorative justice to volunteering in restorative justice, to teaching restorative justice to university students like yourselves.

We both acknowledge that we benefited directly from the unearned privileges of being white-presenting, cisgender, able-bodied and educated.  We also were both heavily influenced by a passionate professor during our undergraduate degrees. These paths, although different, led us both to incorporate the principles and values of restorative justice into our lives, relationships, and work.



One of the central topics of criminology is the criminal justice system—the formal methods and institutions that societies use to address the harms caused by crime. While many criminological theories seek to explain criminal offending, others explore different ways of understanding and achieving justice. But what does it mean to achieve justice? And do some justice systems have advantages over others?

This chapter examines theories of restorative, transformative justice. These approaches are part of the critical tradition in criminology, as they argue for a paradigm shift in criminal justice and changes to the social structures that perpetuate injustice and inequality. Restorative, transformative justice re-evaluates our conceptions of justice, retribution, rehabilitation, and punishment.

By the end of this chapter, you will be able to define and distinguish between these various conceptions of justice. You will also be able to identify restorative justice principles, as well as key stakeholders and restorative justice models, and you will be able to explain how restorative, transformative justice can be used as an approach to criminal justice. Further, you will be able to understand important differences between restorative justice and Indigenous approaches to harm. Lastly, you will be able to identify the key benefits and critiques of restorative, transformative justice.


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Introduction to Criminology Copyright © 2023 by Dr. Shereen Hassan and Dan Lett, MA is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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