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Reaction Essay: Whom and How Do We Reintegrate? Finding Community in Restorative Justice

Bazemore, Gordon
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) Criminology & Public Policy. 4(1): 131-148.

Although this essay is by no means a criticism of the research, the
question “who do we reintegrate” is of course a loaded one that also
seems to raise other important policy, practice, and theoretical questions
not easily answered by this study. First, little clarity or agreement in the
field exists about the meaning and dimensions of “reintegration,” although
it is almost certainly a larger, more complex concept than would be
implied by the absence of criminal behavior (Maruna, 2001). Second, is
being referred to a neighborhood restorative program a good thing that
implies a benefit to a young offender? If not, the question of implied bias
in selection for this program seems moot, although the evidence provided
from this research and at least one additional related study of restorative
justice conferencing at the diversion level (McGarrell, 2001) suggests that
there may be benefits to participation in such programs.i Finally, if the
program, as these findings suggest, does reduce reoffending, why is this?
Although logical connections between intervention and outcomes are seldom made explicit in most practice or evaluation research, it is
important for policy aimed at replication to begin to speculate about the
theoretical components that distinguish this restorative process from other
diversion programs and from other restorative decision-making programs.
The primary purpose of this response is to situate this research and its
findings in a larger public policy context. I will focus primarily on the
broader implications of these findings for assessing the strengths and
limitations of both restorative and community justice policy and practice,
especially as it is implemented in juvenile justice systems. (excerpt)


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