Iâ€™ve thought about this with some cases Iâ€™ve
received as a volunteer restorative conferencing facilitator. The
jurisdiction I volunteer in only allows for restorative justice
post-sentence. Iâ€™ve written before about the issues and questions
involved in ordering a restorative process as a part of the sentence.
These include the lack of voluntariness, lack of options for victims,
etc. But also, I think â€œrestorative justiceâ€ can become routine, another
box to tick off in terms of service such as ordering anger management
and substance abuse screening.
Iâ€™ve wondered this as I talked with defendants who denied guilt although they had either been found or plead guilty. Iâ€™m not talking about defendants who deny that their actions caused harm (this can actually be dealt with in conference) but defendants that say that they didnâ€™t commit the crime. Yet, there is an expectation on the part of the courts and some restorative justice advocates that these individuals will go through a restorative process with their victims.
Obviously, there are a couple of problems with this. First, there is a lack of voluntariness for defendants. Secondly, for a restorative process, the defendant or offender must accept responsibility for the actions. The process canâ€™t move forward when this person claims complete innocence. Granted, this scenario is different from the case I mentioned above where the defendant is also a â€œgrieving victim.â€ But, I wonder if both of these donâ€™t point to a possible trap. Iâ€™m not sure but here are the questions that Iâ€™ve been pondering:
I know others have written about the dangers of restorative justice being co-opted for purposes of the criminal justice system. Iâ€™m just wondering if that can become more of a danger when the restorative process becomes part of the sentence or simply another step in the sentencing process.
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