Source: (2003) Contemporary Justice Review. 6(1): 55-68.
This article discusses a restorative justice project operating for the past two years within the wing of “government collaborators” in an Italian prison. The project has involved the wings’ prisoners, the local and national prisons’ administration, and the local university. After offering a short presentation of the projects aims and results, the author suggests that the introduction of restorative practices in prison creates ambivalence among the prisoners and the staff because of contrasting pressures, tensions, obligations, and working procedures. On the one hand, there are goals and rules that guide a restorative process; on the other, there are the rules and constraints of a total institution. While the author believes restorative justice practices introduced within a prison can offer definite advantages, he concludes that it cannot presume to change the distinctive traits of a total institution and ultimately cannot escape being transformed into an ideology of punishment.
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