Source: (2002) Paper prepared for the 4th Annual Conference of the International Corrections and Prisons Association. 19-23 October, Noodwijkerhout, Netherlands. Downloaded 2 November 2005.
I wish to start this session on restorative justice by suggesting that restorative justice is part of four wider transitions that are underway at present, both within and outside the world of corrections. First, there is a world-wide movement towards the recognition of victims rights, and – associated with that- the need to see criminal justice as something more than a two-party process of State versus Defendant. Victims, so long excluded from the western model of justice, lie at the very heart of restorative justice. Secondly, there is an international trend towards the democratisation of process and the empowerment of the community. This is part of the tendency to reduce the size and function of State institutions, and to ensure that in our emphasis on professionalism, professionals do not end up owning the processes they are employed to serve. Restorative conferencing insists that solutions cannot be imposed “from above” - that we must listen to the voices of those most closely affected by conflict and enable them to influence outcomes. Thirdly, there is a recent and noticeable tendency towards holistic approaches to problems, allowing spiritual and emotional values to be expressed, especially (but not only) where indigenous peoples are involved. Restorative justice allows a wide range of values and needs to be expressed, and culturally appropriate procedures to be followed. Finally, we are I believe seeing a move from procedural justice towards substantive justice. That is, we are increasingly recognising that justice is not just about following fair procedures (eg due process, or the rules of natural justice). Rather, it requires us to produce outcomes that are fair and meet the needs of society.(excerpt)