Source: (2006) Social Inquiry. 76(3): 316-342.

Victim–offender mediation is one of the most widely used practices of restorative justice encounter in the United States. We report findings from research on a victim– offender mediation program sponsored by an American juvenile court. Our specific concern is with power relations at the micro level of the mediation session. Restorative justice has been alternately criticized for controlling its participants too much and for controlling them too little. Some critics point to the silencing of participants, especially those of low social status like youth. Others point to the failure of restorative justice participants to effectively challenge attitudes conducive to crime. We consider the extent to which lay participants were silenced and/or challenged during mediation sessions. Our data suggest that power is diffuse in restorative justice encounters with juvenile offenders and that it is creatively deployed to achieve a variety of purposes. Consistent with restorative justice theories, which consider crime causation broadly, attitudes conducive to crime were not systematically addressed. The analysis underscores the complexity of both restorative justice and its evaluation. (author's abstract)