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Restorative Corrections?

McElrea, F W M
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) Paper prepared for the 4th Annual Conference of the International Corrections and Prisons Association. 19-23 October, Noodwijkerhout, Netherlands. Downloaded 2 November 2005.

I wish to start
this session on restorative justice by suggesting that restorative justice is part of four wider transitions
that are underway at present, both within and outside the world of corrections.
First, there is a world-wide movement towards the recognition of victims rights, and – associated
with that- the need to see criminal justice as something more than a two-party process of State versus
Defendant. Victims, so long excluded from the western model of justice, lie at the very heart of
restorative justice.
Secondly, there is an international trend towards the democratisation of process and the
empowerment of the community. This is part of the tendency to reduce the size and function of State
institutions, and to ensure that in our emphasis on professionalism, professionals do not end up
owning the processes they are employed to serve. Restorative conferencing insists that solutions
cannot be imposed “from above” – that we must listen to the voices of those most closely affected by
conflict and enable them to influence outcomes.
Thirdly, there is a recent and noticeable tendency towards holistic approaches to problems, allowing
spiritual and emotional values to be expressed, especially (but not only) where indigenous peoples are
involved. Restorative justice allows a wide range of values and needs to be expressed, and culturally
appropriate procedures to be followed.
Finally, we are I believe seeing a move from procedural justice towards substantive justice. That
is, we are increasingly recognising that justice is not just about following fair procedures (eg due
process, or the rules of natural justice). Rather, it requires us to produce outcomes that are fair and
meet the needs of society.(excerpt)


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