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Making Variation a Virtue: Evaluating the Potential and Limits of Restorative Justice

Daly, Kathleen
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) prepared for Fourth International Conference on Restorative Justice for Juveniles, October 2000, Tuebingen, substantially revised November 2001. Griffith University. 18 October 2002

Optimism and enthusiasm are naturally much a part of advocacy for and development of restorative justice. What will be the effect of research results on the effectiveness of restorative practices, especially if those results appear negative or contrary to restorative justice ideals and expectations? Daly counsels a constructive approach – analyzing how the ideal works in practice while assuming there are limits on achieving the ideal. In other words, she proposes making variance from the ideal a virtue rather than a liability. Toward this end, she presents findings from the South Australia Juvenile Justice (SAJJ) Research on Conferencing project. The aim is to determine whether some conferences can be judged to have higher levels of restorativeness, procedural justice, and coordinator management skill than others – with the more restorative conferences producing more favorable outcomes, thus validating restorative justice theory.


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