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How Far Can and Should RJ Distance Itself from Criminal Justice?

Wright, Martin
June 4, 2015

Source: (2008) Report of the fifth conference of the European Forum for Restorative Justice, Building restorative justice in Europe: cooperation between the public, policy makers, practitioners and researchers, Verona.

Many advocates of restorative justice see it as a new philosophy of justice, based on reparation and dialogue. To the extent it had been implemented, it has shown very promising results: the great majority of victims are satisfied, offenders feel that the method is fair, and re-offending rates as good or better in almost all cases. But in some countries restorative justice is being put into effect in a very piecemeal fashion, omitting many of the features that the full-blown philosophy would require: for example, victims are often not involved, or if they are, they are not empowered. Some do not involve members of the public. The workshop will invite participants to take on the roles of researchers, practitioners and policymakers, and explore how they could work together to consider the uneasy relationship between restorative justice and the established criminal justice system. Can they be combined, or is there a fundamental division between them? An alternative model will be considered in which the service would be provided by a network of voluntary organizations,
with an ethos and standards governed by a national NGO. It has been suggested that such model would inevitably remain marginalized – can that be overcome, or would it be a price worth paying for holding to the core restorative principles? Cases which could not be dealt with in this way would have to go to the conventional system; is it conceivable that it too could, in time, operate on restorative lines, in ‘restorative prisons’ as John Blad has called them? (excerpt)


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