DOES RESTORATIVE JUSTICE WORK?
The aim of this essay is to be able to explore what restorative justice is and how it has been developed in different places, showing if it works. There can be no doubt that restorative justice is now part of the criminal justice system in the United Kingdom and many other countries such as Canada, Australia, the United States, South Africa and New Zealand. The essay is going to be in three parts: Part I will provide an introduction to the ideas of restorative justice and explore its central propositions, claims and critiques made on behalf of restorative justice; Part II will provide the forms and model of restorative justice practice, indicating how they developed, explaining the ideas and principles embodied in these practises and exploring issues that arise when attempts are made to carry out these practises within criminal justice systems. Part III will then go on to answer the question which most people ask when they hear about restorative justice, which is ‘does it work?’ I am going to talk on what I know to date about how restorative justice actually works from a variety of empirical sources, including several meta-analyses performed by others. Finally, based on the evidence presented in this essay, my conclusions will be drawn on whether restorative justice works. PART I
“Restorative justice” is a broad term, defined differently by its various proponents. It is the name given to a type of different practices such as restitution, apologies and acknowledgements of harm and injury. Admittedly, restorative justice has not yet been properly defined so that we acquire a clear view about its exact content and extent of application. However, the literature and field of practice shares at least the same general idea about what constitutes its practices and the main targets of its procedural outcomes. According to Tony Marshall, Restorative Justice is a process whereby parties with a stake in a specific offence collectively resolve how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future. Theo Gavrielides defines it in the following way: Restorative Justice is an ethos with practical goals, among which is to restore the harm done by including all affected parties in a process of understanding through voluntary and honest dialogue, and by adopting a fresh approach to conflicts and their control, retaining at the same time certain rehabilitative goals. Restorative justice as a social practice and movement began, in its modern incarnation, in the 1970s as a response to what was considered to be an overly harsh criminal justice system that neither effectively prevented crime nor successfully rehabilitated offenders. The criminal justice system was too harsh on offenders who committed crime and did not attend fully to victims needs. Some people started to doubt whether we were morally justified or even prudent in adopting such a response to offenders and victims. They felt that the future of criminal justice looked blank. This led to practitioners experimenting with new ways of dealing with crime problems. In particular they found that the needs of victims and offenders needed to be taken very seriously and instead of punishing the offender, they focused on restoring both parties, and helping to decide how to make things right. That was how they found a rather different response to crime, “Restorative Justice”. Restorative justice has given a different view to the way we regard criminals, by influencing communities, workplaces, and neighbourhoods to treat criminality with forgiveness and understanding. With the inherent moral and religious backing, it could create better healing. Community leaders, religious priests, volunteers all come under Restorative Justice in order to assist criminals' reintegration back into the community by intensive individualisation. Restorative justice works in the lines preached by various religions, which uphold forgiving as superior...
References: * Gerry Johnstone ,A Restorative Justice Reader: Texts, Sources, Context (Cullompton: Willan, 2003
* Gerry Johnstone , Restorative Justice: Ideas, Values, Debate (Cullompton: Willan, 2002)
* Gerry Johnstone & Daniel Van Ness ,Handbook of Restorative Justice , (Cullompton: Willan, 2007)
* Howard Zehr, The Little Book of Restorative justice
* Bazemore, G., and Griffiths, C.T., (2003), ‘Conferences, Circles, Boards and Mediations: The New Wave of Community Justice decision-making’ in McLaughlin, E., Ferguson, R., Hughes, G., and Westmarland, L. (Eds.), Restorative Justice Critical Issues, London, Sage Publications / The Open University
* Braithwaite, J. (1989) Crime, Shame and Reintegration (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
* Gavrielides, Theo. 2003. "Restorative Justice: Are we there yet? Responding to the Home Office 's consultation questions." Criminal Law Forum 14:385-419.
* Strang, Heather. 2000.Victim Participation in a Restorative Justice process: The Canberra Reintegrative Shaming Experiments, Edited by P. dissertation. Canberra: Australian National University.
* Bazemore G, Walgrave L, eds. 1999. Restorative Juvenile Justice: Repairing the Harm of Youth Crime. Monsey, NY: Crim. Justice Press
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