Source: (2008) Paper presented at the annual meeting of the APSA 2008 Annual Meeting, Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Massachusetts, Aug 28, 2008.

Restorative justice has been the focus of much discussion and debate in the field of criminal justice since its emergence on the political and intellectual scene some two and a half decades ago. Characterized alternatively as a “new social movement,” a loose network of academics, policy-makers and practitioners joined by shared concerns about the state of modern criminal justice and a search for substantial alternatives to present policy and practice;2 as a compendium of practices challenging conventional wisdom about how best to respond to crime and deal with its consequences; and, perhaps most ambitiously, as an alternative justice “paradigm” entailing a radical shift in perspective on the meaning and requirements of justice in the face of wrongdoing,3 restorative justice discourse appears to have settled into the criminal justice lexicon for the foreseeable future. In concrete terms, the influence of the restorative justice movement, both domestic and international, has increased dramatically in recent years, as evidenced by the growing number of government-sanctioned programs, policies and international resolutions supporting restorative justice initiatives around the world.4 Whether a reflection of the successful lobbying efforts of advocates or a desire on the part of governments to find new ways of offloading and reducing costs,5 these programs have become much more commonplace, operating at times alongside, at times in partnership with established criminal justice systems. (excerpt)