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Thinking Harder About Democratising Social Control

Braithwaite, John
June 4, 2015

Source: (1994) In: C. Alder and J. Wundersitz (eds.), Family Conferencing and Juvenile Justice: The Way Forward or Misplaced Optimism? Canberra, AUS: Australian Institute of Criminology, pp. 199-216.

This paper is a response to theoretical critiques of community accountability conferences. The criticism is made that conferences do not address issues of disempowerment or social vulnerability. While conferences are not designed to overcome social injustices per se, criminal injustice is an important part of systematic oppression. Other criticisms stem from a misunderstanding of community conferences or are based upon stereotypes of police. Oversight and offender right of refusal are suggested as safeguards against too punitive outcomes and threats to due process. Only with empirical experience can the dangers and promises of community conferences be known and addressed.


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