Source: (1999) Contemporary Justice Review 2(3): 261-281

The ideal of restorative justice puts community at the center of the justice process. Paradoxically, the state is a key actor in the promotion of restorative justice reforms. As with previous criminal justice reforms, the intentions and aims of reformers are likely to be subverted by dominant institutional agendas and interests. Two features of the modern criminal justice system undermine prospects for restorative justice reform: “ownershipâ€? of the justice process by paid professionals and the weakness of community institutions due to the impact of the unfettered market economy. The implications of these structural features for a genuine partnership between the state and communities in the implementation of restorative justice is examined. This article suggests that some restorative justice formats, such as circle sentencing, foster a more balanced partnership between community volunteers and paid professionals thus enhancing the potential for the community’s control of the justice process.