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In search of legitimacy: restorative youth conferencing in Northern Ireland.

Doak, Jonathan
June 4, 2015

Source: (2011) Legal Studies. Article first published online: 28 JAN 2011 DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-121X.2010.00190.x.

Restorative justice principles often feature prominently in peace agreements and initiatives to foster reconciliation and peace-building. As part of its own transitional process, Northern Ireland has undertaken a wide-ranging programme of criminal justice reform, whereby restorative practices have become a central response to juvenile offending. Drawing on a major evaluation of the Northern Ireland Youth Conferencing Scheme, this paper suggests that restorative conferencing holds the potential not only to promote reconciliation between victims and offenders, but it may even bolster the legitimacy deficit suffered by criminal justice institutions. Whilst is vital that such schemes continue to foster their engagement with civil society and the wider community, the broader potential of restorative processes to contribute to post-conflict peace-building is considerable, especially in relation to fostering a sense of legitimacy necessary for the operation of society and the institutions of the state. (author’s abstract)


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