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Mind the Gap: Restorative Justice in Theory and Practice

Daly, Kathleen
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) In, Andrew von Hirsch, et. al., eds., Restorative Justice and Criminal Justice: Competing or Reconcilable Paradigms? Oxford and Portland, Orgeon: Hart Publishing. Pp. 219-236.

Kathleen Daly begins this chapter by relating her experience in the London subway, where as an American she first heard the British phrase “mind the gap.â€? In the subway it referred to the need to observe and negotiate the small but real space or gap between the platform and the train. She adapts the use of the phrase to indicate the gap in spheres other than riding a subway train. Specifically, she uses it to highlight gaps between theory and practice in restorative justice. There are two principal reasons why gaps should be expected between restorative justice theory and restorative justice practice. One, most people do not fully understand the idea, nor have they seen it practiced in real life or even in entertainment media (movies, books, newspapers, television, etc.). Hence, when people enter into a restorative justice process, they do not really know what to do or think. Two, effective participation in restorative justice processes requires certain skills, maturity, and desire to participate, and these may be lacking in many people, especially young people. With all of this in mind, and using data from the South Australia Juvenile Justice (SAJJ) project, Daly examines restorative justice and conferencing in theory and in practice.


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