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Why restorative justice matters for criminology.

Walgrave, Lode
June 4, 2015

Source: (2013) Restorative Justice 1(2):159-167.

This editorial is written on the occasion of the ‘official’ launch of Restorative Justice: An
International Journal at the annual conference of the European Society of Criminology,
held in Budapest in September 2013. While there is no clear-cut definition of criminology, for the sake of this editorial it may help to look at the topics presented in Budapest
this year under the label ‘criminology’. The conference programme covers a wide range
of issues, from the individual characteristics of those who have committed crimes or
have become victims, through gender violence and disciplinary problems in schools,
diverse violations of human rights and international crimes (such as genocide), and
international criminal networks, to sentencing procedures, prevention of drug use, the
impact of urban development on crime, capitalist globalisation and punitive populism
and, indeed, the potential of restorative justice. Almost all scientific, social and normative disciplines are involved, and it is often difficult to indicate precisely the disciplines
or specialisations that are implicated. Criminology is gradually developing its own theoretical and methodological approaches. The Budapest conference programme witnesses
the wide scope of criminology as a field of scientific research and scientifically guided
practice. What is common in the contributions is that they all deal with matters that are
directly or indirectly related to the concept of crime and/or criminal justice.
Against this background, we think that the emergence of restorative justice in recent
decades is beneficial for criminology as a whole. We see at least four reasons for this,
which we would like to discuss briefly in this editorial: credibility of the criminal justice
system, normalisation of criminal behaviour, normative choices to be made, and the setup of a laboratory for research. (excerpt)


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