Restorative justice thesis papers


Restorative justice research paper

Restorative justice is not a single program, practice, or process.

Restorative Justice and Justice Reinvestment | ANZSOC Conference

As indicated by the examples above—especially those involving serious and violent murders and reconciliation following genocide—it is also not an intervention meant only as an alternative response to minor crime, juvenile crime, or other misbehavior. And it is not limited to use in, or as an alternative to, one part of the criminal or juvenile justice process.

Indeed, as illustrated in the last case above, restorative justice may occur spontaneously and completely outside and independent of any formal criminal justice context. Restorative justice does not assume that the victim will or should forgive the offender. Although some victims— including those harmed by some of the most horrific crimes mentioned in the previous examples—choose in their own way and in their own time frame to forgive the offenders that harmed them, a successful restorative intervention does not presume either forgiveness or reconciliation.

Restorative Justice Research Papers

Finally, restorative justice is not focused only on the offender—or on reducing recidivism—even though it has been effective in doing so. To the greatest extent possible, restorative intervention seeks to heal the wounds crime and conflict cause to victims, communities, families, and relationships. Restorative justice practices support rehabilitation and treatment, though this is not their only or primary goal, and according to research, restorative programs have been effective in reducing recidivism; restorative justice is an evidence-based practice.

Advocates of restorative justice are also strong in their support of due process and limits on state intervention, and do not advocate restorative processes for offenders who have not admitted responsibility for the crime, or been found guilty in a fair adjudicatory process. Regarding crime control, restorative justice advocates would support prevention efforts as well as public safety goals.

But they would also argue that a society more focused on restorative practices at a community level e. Restorative justice proponents also recognize the need for secure facilities, and even incapacitation, for violent predatory offenders. Like many other critics of U. Core principles, on the other hand, are value-based assumptions that express ideal goals and objectives to be achieved in a justice process.

The Principle of Repair : Justice requires that healing be enabled for victims, offenders, and communities that have been injured by crime. The extent to which harm is repaired is assessed by the degree to which all parties identify the damage of a crime that needs to be addressed, and develop and carry out a plan to do so. The Principle of Stakeholder Involvement : Victims, offenders, and communities should have the opportunity for active involvement in the justice process as early and as fully as possible.

The extent to which effective stakeholder involvement is achieved is assessed by the degree to which victims, offenders, and individuals from the community affected by a crime or harmful action are intentionally and actively engaged in decision making about how to accomplish this repair. The Principle of Transformation in Community and Government Roles and Relationships : The relative roles and responsibilities of government and community must be rethought.

In promoting justice, government is responsible for preserving a just order, and community for establishing a just peace.

CSU Restorative Justice Program

The extent to which the community—government relationship is transformed in a restorative process is assessed by the degree to which a response to crime operationalizes a deliberate rethinking and reshaping of the role of the criminal justice system in relation to that of community members and groups. While these core principles reflect normative values, they can also be linked to social theories that should guide practice, and in the long run help to explain why a given intervention, or a practice implemented over months or years, is successful or not.

Later in this paper, it will be demonstrated how each principle can be connected to causal theories drawn from criminological and other social science literature and intervention theories of crime and desistance. The problem of crime is of course much larger and more complex than the problem of the offender. Yet, criminal justice policy is in essence an offender-driven response, narrowly focused on arresting and processing lawbreakers. The principle of stakeholder involvement places a priority on engaging those most affected by crime—victim, community, and offender—in the justice process, and on the quality of this engagement.

It also suggests an emphasis on the needs of key stakeholders and their obligations. Such needs are often different for each individual participant in the justice process and may vary in unpredictable ways—hence, the need for a meaningful, respectful engagement process that presumes multiple choices based on research and practice. Based on research and practice experience, it is possible, however, to describe general needs that have become quite common for each stakeholder in a crime or conflict.

Many victims say that they often become most angry with the criminal justice system itself—with its delays, reluctance to share information, and often disrespectful treatment. Victims need first of all to be provided with information about their cases. Victims also want more information about the processing and outcome of their cases, answers to their questions e.

So [the system] gives them door Number [1 or 2], when what they really want is behind Door Number 3, 4, [or] 5.


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Traditionally, offender needs when addressed at all in a nonpunitive way have focused primarily on treatment. While most citizens—including those who have been victims—support rehabilitation for offenders, the legitimate portion of public anger about the criminal justice system is based on the view that most offenders are not held accountable.

Greater understanding by the public and by victims, as well as justice itself, therefore requires that offenders be meaningfully held accountable for what they have done. They need to take action to repair the harm and to have a voice in the decision-making process about how this is accomplished.


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  • Facing their victim s in a restorative justice process provides a rare opportunity to also develop empathy and remorse—two factors strongly related to a reduced probability of reoffending—while also having input into the process. Offenders then take action to repair harm by making amends through apologies, community or victim service, restitution, and so on.

    Restorative Justice Essay

    Offenders also need support for reintegration into their communities. Juvenile offenders in particular need opportunities to build a range of assets, skills, and competencies, and they need an opportunity to practice and demonstrate these. Young offenders need also to develop positive relationships with prosocial adults.

    John McKnight, in his book The Careless Society: Community and Its Counterfeits , makes a convincing argument that Americans have in recent decades entrusted much of their traditional responsibility for raising children, helping the elderly, improving schools, and participating in civic life to experts. In doing so, Americans have handed over input into community life to agencies focused on problems and deficits rather than assets that might enhance public life:. The raw material of community, on the other hand, is capacity. Communities are built utilizing the capacities and skills of needy, deficient people.

    Communities are also clearly imperfect.

    Importance of Restorative Justice in the Entire Justice Process

    Yet, children grow up in communities, and not, if they are lucky, in service and juvenile justice programs. As the state has taken on more responsibility for raising children, Americans have lost some of the basic wisdom and much of the competencies their parents and grandparents had as well as their extended networks of support , and must literally relearn and practice these techniques. Rather than the typical focus of the past three decades on further expansion of the reach, responsibilities, and resources of the criminal and juvenile justice systems, restorative principles especially the third principle described above, which addresses transformation of the community—government relationship offer opportunities to strengthen and resource communities to allow them to reclaim responsibility for tasks they once performed not perfectly, but often better than criminal justice and social service agencies are capable of doing.

    Restorative justice practice can and should therefore be viewed as a tool not simply to help individual victims and offenders, but also to help families, neighbors, schools, churches, networks of activities, and other foundations as communities begin to rekindle basic skills of social support and control that many believe are being lost. Examples of using restorative practice in these ways include cases in which community groups have stepped up to the plate to reclaim some of these responsibilities. Paul area, a case involving serious vandalism in which a local teenager had ransacked an elaborately designed tree house that was open to and used by neighborhood youth, a group of community members took matters into their own hands, and with no professional help, organized their own neighborhood restorative conference.

    The conference resulted in restitution paid by the youth and his mother to rebuild the tree house; community service that involved neighbors working with the youth to repair damages; apologies from the youth and mother; and later, a neighborhood party to which the police officers were also invited.

    Though much of the literature on restorative justice has been regarding the extent to which it does bring about shame or guilt on the part of the offender or instil empathy towards the victim , 8 a constant backwards focus, as the criminal justice system tends to have, does not actually aid in encouraging the offender to desist from crime or help persistent offenders learn to lead a non-offending life in the community.

    Forgiveness as a process, then, is complicated: forgiveness by the victim towards the offender but also forgiveness by victims directed towards themselves and forgiveness by offenders also towards themselves. These will, however, occur at different times after the offence and at different stages of justice processes. Self-forgiveness is likely to take a lot longer than forgiveness of the other forgiveness of the other can be conceived of, for some people, as immediate —or are they all possibly iterative parts of the same process?

    Are there links between forgiveness of the other and self-forgiveness? For this, we need to dissect the idea of forgiveness in more detail. However, first it is necessary to examine how forgiveness might link to communication and the possibilities for communication, within and outside restorative justice. In terms of speaking about the harm caused by an offence, both victim and offender may be talking about themselves, but also about each other.


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    • However, because an offence is an act proscribed by the criminal law, as enacted by the state, each may also be referring to harm caused to society in general, or to the local community. Crime has been referred to as creating a ripple, where the effects and the news spread outwards from the initial victim to their neighbours, friends, and local community which is why a robbery of a local post office or shop, eg creates much more alarm than a similar offence to a private householder and may, via the media, reach further to the nation and even globally.

      Communication about the offence, particularly in any public forum, such as a court, hence is often not solely about harm to the victim but also harm to others and society.

      The opportunities provided within criminal justice and restorative justice for such communication, though, are not symmetrical to all these potential audiences and communicators. In criminal justice, offenders communicating about the offence speak to the judge as a representative of society. Victims, though, are rarely present in court 11 and all those speaking are told not to speak past the judge to another party, but directly to the judge.

      Hence, in criminal justice court proceedings and similar youth justice proceedings , communication is to society, not to the victim.

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