Unfortunately, as Ms. Rea also notes, our criminal justice system does not make it easy for victims who desire this kind of mediated process to obtain it.  There are many reasons for this but two seem to predominate:  First, our criminal justice system defines crime as committed against the state-not first and foremost against individuals and communities (pause for a moment and ask how the crime against Mr. Partida has negatively affected our community).  The offender, if convicted, is punished by the state and on the state's terms - the debt is owed to the state first and foremost.  This is demonstrated colloquially in phrases like "he paid (or must pay) his dues to society."

Where is the victim in all of this? Generally victims are left out of most of the process, and this is related to the second reason why victims cannot obtain access to a restorative process even if they desire it.  Ms. Rea says that many victims have expressed that "they feel used by the system, like they are just pawns in its game to convict and sentence the offender."  District attorneys, generally speaking, "control" the victim's narrative.  The victim is "theirs" and they may need the victim (and/or the victim's family) to play a certain role in order to assure that a conviction is achieved.  To say that DAs seek to control the victim's narrative does not imply wrongdoing on their part. As noted, they are part of a system that views crime as something committed against the statutes of the state.  They do what they must to find relief for the state.

Read the whole article.