Source: (2004) Papers presented at the Third Conference of the European Forum for Victim-Offender Mediation and Restorative Justice, 'Restorative Justice in Europe: Where are we heading?', Budapest, Hungary, 14-16 October. Downloaded 22 September 2005.

I am a newcomer to the field of Restorative Justice and decided to thrust myself into this area as a result of my own experience as a psychologist and mediator. The aim of this paper is to propose an emphasis on a certain direction of action and in parallel raise questions for reflection and discussion. In my humble opinion, the current criminal system does not achieve the goals expected from it. Furthermore, I would assume that criminal activities may continue to rise whilst budgets may continue to decrease, therefore, the system would be even more inadequate. Change of approach and practice in Society’s Institutions seems to be inevitable. Contrary to public myths, experts claim that about 60% of crime is committed between non-strangers. Furthermore it is claimed, that most offenders were victims themselves. The trend in democratic society entailed intensive interventions of the State in the Family. The current radical shift from socialism to liberal democracy might result in a shift of responsibility back to the family. Government would have essentially only a regulatory role. Such trends might definitely have a further impact on families, which are already going through a process of deconstruction. Families play a central role in developing one's identity, sometimes over several generations. The implications are that interventions for change would focus again on the Family. In order to interrupt criminal patterns that run across families and people who know each other, or were by themselves victims, Families themselves might be the most effective change agents. The first and foremost challenge would be to restore to the Family its sense of legitimate authority and responsibility. When dealing with families in which suspected as well as actual crime is an issue, professional facilitators will have to seek ways to empower them. (excerpt)

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