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Restorative justice must humble if it is to be judged a success

Apr 06, 2012

an editorial in the Derby Telegraph:

There is little doubt that restorative justice makes sense.

Certainly when it was first brought in, the suggestion that a victim of crime being handed immediate compensation by a perpetrator made sense.

Among those who took part early in the scheme were low-scale young vandals who did not have a criminal record and were spared one, despite a moment of madness.

But they were shamed by having to deal with their victim.

We worry a little bit about the latest restorative justice case involving a Derby County supporter who racially abused a footballer at Pride Park.

This is because the fan will now not go to court because he has written a letter of apology to the club.

However, it was not the target of his abuse so it is a little difficult to fathom why he did not have to write a letter to the player concerned, Stoke City's Cameron Jerome.

It is right that the police have been involved and the club has revoked the fan's season ticket and banned him from the stadium.

But we are just advising caution that restorative justice should not be seen as an easy option.

In this case, writing to Derby County does not seem too much of a humbling experience.

And that is what restorative justice should be.

If it is to be as effective a deterrent as a court appearance, it should be potent.

Next time this happens at Pride Park we would recommend that the culprit has to face the player and say sorry – that would leave a long-lasting effect.

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Bonita Holland
Bonita Holland says:
Apr 09, 2012 12:42 AM

The idea that an individual is 'made' to write an apology letter is the first red flag for me that is an indicator that whoever was facilitating this process may not have had a good enough understanding of restorative principles. This can be the result of being trained in formal scripted restorative justice or a one size fits all restorative process. Best practice and occupational standards protect those harmed from poor restorative practice. We must promote these standards, and communicate to all practitioners that principles come before practice.

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