Source: (2005) In Elizabeth Elliott and Robert M. Gordon, eds., New Directions in Restorative Justice: Issues, Practice, Evaluation. Cullompton, UK: Willan Publishing. Pp. 3-25.
Juvenile justice systems throughout the world have been involved in attempts to balance treatment and punishment in the management of juvenile offenders. The distinctive contribution of the restorative justice paradigm is the introduction of another objective of juvenile case processing, i.e., repairing the offense’s harm to the victim, the community, and the offender. This means that responses to crime do not focus primarily on the offender’s rehabilitation or punishment, but rather on promoting conditions that repair much of the harm caused by the crime. This can involve action to repair material damage; relief for the victim’s psychological and relational suffering; consideration for the social unrest and community indignation; attention to the community’s uncertainty about the legal order and public safety; and the social damage the offender has caused himself/herself. This focus on the harms caused by an offense involves either a voluntary or involuntary development of a comprehensive strategy for identifying and addressing the specific harms precipitated by an offense. Ideally, this is done through a conference or mediation in which the stakeholders cooperate in the development of a plan to remedy these harms. Evaluative research on restorative justice practices has so far shown that such interventions do work and produce outcomes that are more satisfying to the stakeholders (victims, offenders, and the community) than either a punitive or strictly rehabilitative approach. Many juvenile justice systems have turned to restorative schemes in order to make juveniles offenders accountable, to benefit victims, and to avoid a shift toward purely punitive approaches. Whether this will become the mainstream paradigm for juvenile justice remains to be seen. Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.org.
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