Relational Justice was the first project undertaken by Relationships Foundation. It was started in response to widespread disillusionment with measures to tackle crime, and doubts on the effectiveness of increasing the use of custodial sentences. The concept was developed as a new approach to reforming the criminal justice system. It turns the traditional view of crime on its head – instead of viewing crime primarily as an offence against the state, it views crime primarily as an offence against people: the victim, the victim’s family, the offender’s family, and the wider community. In doing so, it puts the focus of the criminal justice system on restoring the relationships damaged by crime.
The case for Relational Justice was set out in the book Relational Justice: Repairing the Breach and its implications were explored further through the Relational Justice Bulletin which ran from 1997 to 2005. Relationships Foundation also carried out a number of relational audits in prisons and worked with ministers and high level advisers to consider the implications for public policy.