Source: (1998) Justice Quarterly 15(4): 629-666.

To achieve this aim, the authors discuss four subjects. First, the essay outlines the essentials of the balanced and restorative justice (BARJ) approach, specifically in relation to the VOM process. The BARJ model helps to explain how the demands of criminal justice agencies, the community, crime victims, and offenders are met. VOM is a manifestation of BARJ in practice. Second, the authors critique the VOM system on the basis of existing critical criminological scholarship. This analysis is significant for identifying important structural limitations of VOM (political, economic, and cultural), which inform subsequent sections of the essay. Third, the authors critically examine the language of mediation used during victim-offender reconciliation sessions. To facilitate this investigation, the authors rely on several overlapping and interdependent developments found in postmodern psychoanalytic semiotics and chaos theory. The essay shows that the use of key formulas contained in these paradigms provides access to the unconscious forces at work in the psychic configuration of the victim-offender mediation process. Thus, by detailing these mechanisms, the authors offer an alternative view of what transpires within and through the mediation dialog. Fourth, the authors provisionally discuss the policy significance of VOM in relation to the theoretical principles previously explained. In this context, the authors speculate about how an alternative vision of restorative justice might be constructed if different voices and ways of learning were embodied in the reconciliation dialog. Here, too, insights from nonlinear dynamics and psychoanalytic semiotics guide the assessment. To contextualize the more abstract conceptual material, the authors incorporate references and illustrations from juvenile justice into the general thesis.