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Victim-offender mediation in Germany

Bannenberg, Britta
June 4, 2015

Source: (2000) In Victim-offender mediation in Europe: Making restorative justice work, ed. The European Forum for Victim-Offender Mediation and Restorative Justice, 251-279. With an introduction by Tony Peters. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press.

Bannenberg sketches the historical background to victim-offender mediation in Germany. In the mid 1980s many began questioning the criminal justice system in Germany. Sanctions did not reduce crime or recidivism. Victims were largely ignored by the system except as a piece of evidence in the criminal proceedings. Some began discussing the rights and needs of victims, restitution, conflict resolution, victim-offender mediation, abolition of prisons, and other new ideas and practices. Pilot projects in victim-offender mediation began in the mid 1980s in several cities. In 1986 a Victims’ Protection Act was passed. Victim-offender mediation programs grew noticeably in juvenile justice, but were more limited in adult criminal law. Other provisions were added to the legal codes in the 1990s. These provisions touch upon victim-offender mediation, reparation, compensation, restitution, and even reconciliation. (The paper includes an appendix with relevant sections of German legal codes.) There is discussion of extending victim-offender mediation programs to those already in prison. The legal framework permits all forms of mediation from investigation to imprisonment, both in juvenile justice law and adult criminal law. Yet police seldom refer cases to mediation services. Lawyers are not widely familiar or experienced with the possibilities of mediation. And recourse to mediation is finally at the discretion of public prosecutors and judges. Bannenberg presents statistics on the number of cases of victim-offender mediation, status of mediation services, and programs working with adults or juveniles or both.


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