Before reading this play I honestly had no idea what restorative justice was and what it meant. 'After The Accident' tells the story of a broken couple who've lost their child in a road traffic accident and also tells the story of the young man called Leon who stole the car that crashed into them.
This single event leads to a huge struggle for all characters; Petra and Jimmy with the overwhelming loss of their child and Leon with the loss of his best friend and lengthy prison sentence. Eventually after four years all three characters are placed in a room together with nowhere to hide in a facilitated restorative justice meeting.
What strikes me most about restorative justice is that it is a free forum for victims and offenders to vocalise things they want to say. From my understanding as soon as court precedings are over that is the end of victim and offender contact, which for most people would seem like a good thing. But looking at this from Leon's perspective (as the actor who portrays him) it is apparent that he doesn't get chance to fully talk to the victims of his actions, especially after years thinking about his actions. He doesn't get the opportunity to express remorse, ask questions, explain what happened, explain why it happened and also share how the consequences of the crash have affected him.
I suppose the immediate question that pops up is 'why should he have the chance to do all this?' He's an offender, he's committed a crime, he's taken two lives. Why should he be given a chance to meet the victims? But Restorative Justice is not a soft option. Facing the people whose lives you completely changed is an incredibly brave thing to do for an offender and this in itself is an admirable thing. For me, my understanding of restorative justice is to address the unknown in every sense of the word, and this play shows that in detail.
In 'After The Accident' none of the characters are angels, and especially in the pivotal meeting the play addresses the sometimes ugly reaction to horrific things that happen. I truly believe this play is important as restorative justice is hugely valuable to help people to move on with their lives after such extreme events. Offenders in particular are much less likely to reoffend after a restorative conference so this surely demonstrates how effective it can be to get them back on road.