The first five chapters reflect Canadian authorship. The sixth chapter examines the culture of care in one New Zealand school setting. Perhaps the best chapter is a compact review of R.J. history and application, which lays a foundation for understanding R.J. Chapter 8, Introduction to Restorative Justice, makes mention of Australia, Finland, New Zealand, China and Canada. Two York College, Pennsylvania (United States) authors also offer brief comment on the various flavors of R.J. (family group conferencing, drug courts, victim offender programs, sentencing circles, truancy mediation, teen courts, etc.).
The final chapter, Establishing Shalom: A Public Health Approach to Restorative Justice is an intriguing commentary on U.S. and Canadian society vis a vis welfare, income, educational attainment and criminal justice demographic profiles. To suggest that self help type groups or support fellowships with an R.J. flavor be applied to “disenfranchised individuals living on the margins of society” vastly broadens the paradigm shift for what most think of when the term restorative justice is mentioned.
Equally thought provoking is chapter #11, which challenges the reader to reflect on the careful use of words to discuss what is meant when we refer to accountability, competency development and community protection. This chapter, Words Mean Things, makes worthwhile points through offering a history the juvenile court system and recent code and practice changes in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Another chapter hints at the problem of minority overrepresentation, a long standing topic in U.S. justice arenas, in comments on the use of R.J. within the ‘prison gates’ with the indigenous or aboriginal peoples of Canada.
While the international and educational perspective is not included in the most interesting segments of the anthology, several articles do focus on R.J. in educational circles. Chapter Five addresses the possible use of R.J. in an elementary school setting. Another chapter opines on violence in schools. Most of the chapters offer an overview that is too cursory for the import of the topic being addressed.
This book is offered by a publishing firm sharing the same name as the lead author and contributor, John Charlton. While unusual, this fact should not devalue the merit of some of the contributed articles. After all, in the late nineteenth century another criminal justice reformer, Charles Dickens, published his works in serialized or magazine format.