Source: (2007) Acta Criminologica. 20(2):43-60.

In this paper, all the different arguments regarding restorative justice are considered and examined in order to position it in relation to mainstream criminal justice and rehabilitation. To suggest that restorative justice will be more effective when accompanied by an explicit rehabilitative culture before it has been settled and accepted as the future of criminal justice is premature. Rehabilitation is a complex process and would usually not be accomplished after one restorative justice meeting. Proper macro-scale research is needed before the question is answered and policymakers can be influenced. The key to restorative justice’s future lies in a modified criminal justice system policy and a move away from one-dimensional approaches to a synthesis of best practice. This policy must emphasize reparation, rebuilding, and reintegration and must address the need of the victim, the offender, and the community. A criminal justice system that follows these principles should exist in tandem with other justice philosophies, such as deterrence, rehabilitation, and incapacitation. In addition, restorative justice should complement the criminal justice system. Despite ongoing research there is no consensus among scholars regarding the definition and meaning of restorative justice. The literature is also unclear as to whether it should be a mainstream role-player in criminal justice. This paper addresses the meaning and effectiveness of restorative justice as a formal justice alternative for rehabilitation. It also discusses restorative justice vis-à-vis the problem of recidivism. Lastly, an interpretation of restorative justice’s future prospects in an official judicial process, with or without an explicit rehabilitative culture, is canvassed. (abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.gov).