Source: (2007) Paper presented at the annual meeting of the AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CRIMINOLOGY, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta, Georgia, Nov 14, 2007.

In an effort to support restorative justice at the United Nations, the Working Party on Restorative Justice conducted a Delphi process in 1996 to explore the degree to which there was a consensus among scholars on the meaning of the terms (McCold, 1998). This paper revisits the theoretical debate and reconsiders the status of the academic field a decade later. After reviewing the major threads in the evolution of restorative justice, it is shown that developments toward a generally accepted theoretical consensus have made little progress. Some reasons for this lack of development are suggested and the primary impediments to future development are considered. The author proposes a set of general requirements for an initial theoretical foundation and postulates a need-based barebones theory. The author invites interested academics to challenge this structure and encourages broad collaboration in fleshing out a full-fledged theory of restorative justice. (author's abstract)