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Neighborhood Accountability Boards: The strength of weak practices and prospects for a “community building” restorative model.

Schiff, Mara F.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2011) Washington University Journal of Law & Policy. 36:17-46.

In the mid-1990s, restorative justice practices became known to a number of criminal and juvenile justice practitioners and justice reform advocates. While the excitement about ―conferencing‖ models from New Zealand and Australia brought international attention to restorative justice, long-standing and ―new‖ North American practices—including Victim-Offender Mediation (―VOM‖), Peacemaking Circles (―Circles‖), and other models-gained both popularity and expanded application. This Article addresses Neighborhood Accountability Boards (―NABs‖), one such popular restorative decision-making model. Although criticized by some restorative justice advocates, we argue that NABs may fill a niche as a neighborhood level ―community building‖ response to lower or mid-range crimes that is capable of serving a larger and more diverse population of offenders, victims, and their families than other restorative models. Based on an underlying theory of pro-social connection through reliance on ―weak ties,‖ we argue that NABs may provide broader instrumental social support for offenders and victims from community members and families. Moreover, by offering local social, community, and family support, NABs may help ameliorate the conditions that foster crime and conflict management at the neighborhood level. (author’s abstract)


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