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Crime and Reconciliation: Experimental Criminology and the Future of Restorative Justice.

Sherman, Lawrence W
June 4, 2015

Source: (2009) Acta Criminologica. 22(1).

The South African Truth and Reconciliation story has provided a moral inspiration
for the rest of the world to reconsider reconciliation. Under the name of ‘restorative
justice’ (RJ), the spirit of ubuntu has opened a world-wide window for experimental
criminology to address two key questions. The first question is whether reconciliation
is a more effective way to prevent crime than pure punishment. If it is, at least in some
cases, the second question is how best to structure and administer a system of
reconciliation, with what kinds of offences, victims and offenders. These two questions
have been the focus of the fifteen-year long Jerry Lee Program of Randomized
Controlled Trials in Restorative Justice, including eleven randomized controlled trials
in Australia and England. The evidence so far shows that RJ causes most offenders
tested to reduce their frequency of offending more than pure punishment, especially
those charged with violent offences. RJ also gives victims far more benefit than pure
punishment. The challenge for experimental criminology is now to generate more
evidence about the best ways of implementing RJ on a far wider scale. (author’s abstract)


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