The Overlooked Victim Right: According Victim-Survivors a Right of Access to Restorative Justice

Lynn S. Branham, Saint Louis University School of Law


In recent years, states have accorded victim-survivors more expansive legal rights and made it easier for them to invoke those rights. Conspicuously absent from the litany of victims’ rights enumerated in the law is the right to be afforded access to restorative justice processes. This Article challenges this systemic failure to understand and respond to the full spectrum of victim-survivors’ needs. First, the Article provides three examples of core needs of victim-survivors that are largely disregarded by criminal justice systems and profiles how restorative justice equips criminal justice systems to better meet those needs. The Article then spotlights pertinent research confirming the benefits that redound to victim-survivors who participate in restorative processes. The Article concludes with a call for the law to accord victim-survivors a new right—a right of access to restorative justice processes—the need for which criminal justice systems have overlooked for far too long.