Source: (2012) Journal of Social Work. 12(5):491-509.

Multicultural modern society shows the necessity for a systematic assessment of needs and the formulation of policies which are based on rigorous and systematic research. Specifically, in Spain juvenile penal justice represents one of the major contexts where the presence of cultural diversity has made itself forcefully felt. This situation has led to an ongoing reappraisal of the way in which the forms of conflict management which currently form part of the Spanish Juvenile Penal Code are applied. This article represents an attempt to take a closer look at the way mediation is used as a policy alternative in the penal context, and in particular how it is used in situations when one part of the process involves a young immigrant. We focus on the meaning attributed to penal mediation from the perspective of the victim or the offender and on the difficulties in applying mediation programs among young immigrants. • Findings: This analysis shows the presence of several asymmetries in intercultural mediation and suggests the importance of intercultural communication in mediation. • Application: We aim to develop a more comprehensive framework in order to improve the way such processes are implemented in practice, paying special attention to the possible application of mediation in other contexts. (author's abstract)