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Restorative Justice or Restorative Health: Which Model Best Fits the Needs of Marginalized Girls in Canadian Society?

Jackson, Margaret A.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) Criminal Justice Policy Review. 17(2):234-251.

The studies show that marginalized girls tend to come from homes with emotionally and physically abusive caregivers. This often pressures them to leave home to live on the streets, surviving through prostitution and petty crime, without access to physical and mental health services. Attempting to cope on the street often brings contact with the justice system, which further alienates them from a normative socioeconomic lifestyle. In the justice system, however, they do often receive health services not available to them in the community. Based on these findings regarding the needs of marginalized girls, this article recommends a prevention strategy for these girls that the authors call a “restorative health” (RH) model. Under this model, publicly funded health-oriented services are offered to these girls without any connection to the justice system. The popular restorative justice model comes into play only after a youth has been drawn into contact with the justice system. The RH model, on the other hand, focuses on meeting marginalized girls’ mental and physical health needs without reference to any accountability interventions related to delinquent behavior. This model prevents further marginalization under the stigmatizing influence of the justice system while meeting health needs that may place a girl at risk for deviant coping behaviors. One of the studies reviewed in this article involved an examination of the lives of immigrant and refugee girls in the Canadian Province of British Columbia. The second study involved interviews with 28 girls living in extreme poverty as sex trade workers or under conditions of sexual exploitation in rural areas of British Columbia. (Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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