Source: (1996) Paper presented at the American Society of Criminology Conference, Annual Meeting, Chicago, November 20-23, 1996.

This paper examines the legal implications of community service used as a restorative sanction. An empirical assessment is made of the practices in the Belgian Juvenile Courts, based on an analysis of more than 600 judicial dossiers and interviews. Community service appears to be imposed also on considerably serious cases. Contrary to suggestions in the literature, SES-based or ethnicity-based discrimination is not found. Net-widening cannot be demonstrated. Fundamental problems include issues of due process and proportionality . It is questioned whether this is due to an immature practice, or is inevitably linked to the theoretical model of restorative justice. General considerations on juvenile justice and restorative justice are discussed.