Source: (2008) International Journal of Punishment and Sentencing. 4(3).
The reliance of the Canadian criminal justice system on adversarial procedures and
incarceration is not very effective or productive when dealing with Aboriginal crime.
Restorative justice is often presented as a more constructive way of dealing with
Aboriginal crime, and as a solution to Aboriginal over-incarceration. There have
however been recent criticisms made against restorative justice that call into question its
effectiveness as a medium of social control. These criticisms have the potential to enter
policy discourses on justice and frustrate Aboriginal aspirations regarding the use of
restorative justice. Restorative justice, notwithstanding the criticisms, still has the
potential to provide more constructive and effective responses to Aboriginal crime than
adversarial and punitive approaches. The criticisms actually provide valuable insights to
Aboriginal peoples. They can use those criticisms to design their restorative justice
projects to address those criticisms and avoid the negative consequences predicted by
those criticisms. Restorative justice projects will be better and more likely to succeed for
it. They may also be more likely to win needed political and financial support as well
from Canadian governments. Those studies that do indicate suggest may justify not only
a certain optimism for Aboriginal use of restorative justice, but perhaps should motivate
Canadian governments to seriously consider a paradigm shift, in terms of spending
priorities and policy objectives, when it comes to Aboriginal crime. (Author’s abstract).
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