Source: (2004) Criminology & Public Policy. 3(4): 101-111. Downloaded 31 March 2005.

Despite the contemporary academic and policy interest surrounding restorative and community justice, rigorous and extensive evaluations of initiatives are only recently coming to the fore, to take their place alongside small-scale case studies and anecdotes as ways of understanding and storytelling about restorative and community justice in public policy discourse. In their article, Karp and Drakulich have added a further important layer to our comprehension of the possibilities and pitfalls in implementing particular models of justice informed by restorative ideals. In what follows, I want to reflect on a fundamental, but often unasked, public policy question raised by the Vermont Reparative Boards and the thoughtful evaluation of them provided by Karp and Drakulich; namely; why involve lay people in criminal/restorative justice interventions? As they note, "there are still important questions to ask about the increased involvement of volunteers in the criminal justice system." In reflecting on these questions, I will draw on some recent developments in England and Wales, referred to by the authors in their article, notably, research conducted into Youth Offender Panels, which share some (qualified) similarities with Reparative Boards (see Crawford and Newburn, 2003). (excerpt)