The International Journal of Restorative Justice


Participatory restorative justice design: creating space for restorative justice by centring the voices of those impacted by harm

Keywords participatory design, architecture, restorative justice design
Authors Barb Toews, Deanna Van Buren en Garrett Jacobs
Author's information

Barb Toews
Barb Toews is an associate professor in criminal justice at the School of Social Work and Criminal Justice, University of Washington, Tacoma, USA.

Deanna Van Buren
Deanna Van Buren is the executive director/design director, Designing Justice+Designing Spaces, Oakland, USA.

Garrett Jacobs
Garrett Jacobs, is the director of advocacy and strategic partnerships, Designing Justice+Designing Spaces, Oakland, USA. Corresponding author: Barb Toews at
  • Abstract

      The dominant justice system used in the United States can be mapped by the spaces in which it occurs – e.g. police stations, courthouses and prisons. Restorative justice calls for a new justice architecture that communicates the values of and goals for meaningful accountability, harm repair and the transformation of individuals, relationships and community. Designing restorative justice spaces and infrastructure is best done with the active engagement of those who have caused harm, those who have been harmed and their communities. Non-hierarchical collaborations between these parties and architects and designers ensures that the resulting space is physically safe, beautiful and structurally sound while also meeting individual and community needs. This design engagement may increase the likelihood that community members will access restorative justice practices and may also open their imaginations for expanding restorative justice into daily and community life. Through reflection on real world design projects and participatory design strategies used by the authors, this article explores the potential benefits of participatory design for the creation of spaces appropriate for a variety of restorative justice work, as well as argues that these design engagement processes have the potential to shift individual mindsets and transform communities in meaningful ways.

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