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Victims as stakeholders: Research from a juvenile court on the changing roles of victims in restorative justice.

Wood, William R.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2013) Western Criminology Review. 14(1):6-24.

This research analyzes changes made by a juvenile court over five years toward the progressive inclusion of victims as “stakeholders” within the implementation and development of restorative justice practices. Beginning in 1999, the Clark County Juvenile Court (CCJC) in Washington State introduced a Victim Offender Mediation (VOM) program. Subsequently, the court altered diversion and probation practices in ways that provided several significant services to victims, and afforded victims increased decision-making capacity. In doing so, the court also amended how offenders fulfilled their diversion or probation requirements at the court, particularly in relation to its use of VOMs. This research follows the initial inclusion of victims as “stakeholders” within the use of VOMs beginning in 1999, and explicates how and where these stakeholder roles were amended over time until 2005, when the court had largely finalized the structure of victim involvement and participation. The ensuing discussion describes the rationale for the court’s changes, and the effects of these changes on how victims were able to participate and make decisions in both diversion and probation cases. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of these changes as they involve the role of victims as stakeholders within restorative justice as used in formal justice settings, and in particular the possible limits of such roles when enacted through justice agencies such as juvenile courts. (author’s abstract)


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