Source: (2011) Washington University Journal of Law & Policy. 36:1-16.
Restorative Justice, as indicated in the papers in this symposium issue of the Journal, is most commonly used as a label for victim-offender mediation and related approaches that focus on offender accountability to the victims of their crimes. Although not the first,1 the Victim-Offender Reconciliation Programs (VORP) were the most influential and enduring. Originating within the Mennonite community in Elkhart, Indiana, under the leadership and inspiration of Howard Zehr,2 as noted herein by Mark Umbreit, himself among the pioneers, within a decade VORP programs had been emulated in hundreds of communities throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and northern Europe.3 By then Umbreit had established perhaps the most ambitious and successful research and training programs in the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota and had become a widely acknowledged leader of the movement both in the United States and abroad. By the 1990s, as these early efforts attracted other pioneers in the field, including Gordon Bazemore and Lode Walgrave, authors of two other papers included here, victim-offender mediation under the rubric of â€•Restorative Justiceâ€– had become a significant international movement.4 Often reinforced by victim rights advocacy efforts and no longer moored primarily within religious communities, the movement gained additional momentum with advent and widespread emulation of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commissions as well as family conferencing in New Zealand and Australia.5 With added momentum and the introduction of a variety of new approaches, the scope of restorative justice also began to expand beyond its initial focus. The broader implications were perhaps most eloquently and persuasively argued by John Braithwaite in two seminal worksâ€”Crime, Shame, and Reintegration (1989) and Not Just Deserts (with Philip Petit, 1990). Today, as poignantly expressed in the paper by Sunny Schwartz and Leslie Levitas, restorative justice reflects a variety of approaches and emphases that focus on both victim reparation and offender correction. As they suggest, broader and more inclusive applications of the fundamental principles enable restorative justice approaches to be more fully integrated into the formal structures of law enforcement. As Brenda Waugh eloquently reminds us in her paper, however, restorative justice reflects values and principles that extend well beyond the parameters of formal legal structures. With this introduction, I would only add that as broadly defined an integrated approach to restorative justice offers an alternative to the retributive models that far more effectively and efficiently achieve each of the three principal aims of criminal justiceâ€”victim reparation, offender correction, and crime prevention. My purpose is to encourage more inclusive definitions and approaches that can be fully incorporated as primary features of criminal law enforcement within its formal structures. (excerpt)
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