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Restorative Justice Theory and the Finnish Mediation Practices

Elonheimo, Henrik
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) A Paper Presented at the Third Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology, Helsinki, 27-30 August 2003.

The theory of restorative justice is noble indeed. Furthermore, the international literature is rife with uplifting anecdotes of successful restorative ceremonies where the parties to a crime meet and experience a moving emotional shift from hostility to empathy and co-operation. Creative win-win agreements are reached. Eventually, the parties may hug and even make friends and invite each other to a dinner, etc. Does this happen also in Finland?
In Finland, the most prominent manifestation of restorative justice is victim-offender mediation. In order to investigate to what extent the restorative ideals are actually realized within the Finnish mediation practices, 16 cases of victim-offender mediation have been observed. The data has been gathered by law students in the city of Turku between 2001-2003. According to the data, there are many advantages to mediation: Most of the time, the parties come up with viable agreements they are satisfied with. The offenders are motivated to compensate for the damages. The parties are given voice; they have the opportunity to tell their stories in their own words. The initial tension is reduced as the mediation proceeds. Rather than the statexe2x80x99s retributive interests, the victimsxe2x80x99 rights are promoted. (Author’s Abstract).


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