Source: (2005) Paper presented at the National Conference on Young People and Crime: Research, Policy and Practice at the Centre for Social and Educational Research, the Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland on the 13th September 2005.

This paper will highlight some potential dangers of pursuing the use of restorative justice (RJ) for juvenile offenders in Ireland. It will look at penal reforms of the past; in particular it will look at the work of Stanley Cohen and his examination of the development of “community corrections.” Social control theorists, like Cohen, often view changes in penal structures differently to reformists and examine the underlying impact of expanding the social control apparatus beyond the prison system. In this presentation I intend to use the template used by Stanley Cohen in the 70’s to analyse the development of restorative justice in the juvenile justice system. The dangers highlighted by Cohen will then be applied to restorative practices in order to provide a framework for the critique of this approach. While it is acknowledged that the development of such programmes are essential in developing an appropriate response to juvenile offending it is also important to critically discuss these projects to highlight the problems and potential dangers emerging out of their adoption. The focus of the paper will remain primarily on restorative programmes although many of the criticisms discussed can also be levied at diversionary programmes. (excerpt)

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