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Governmental Documents

As governments have adopted restorative justice programmes, some have created study commissions and other bodies to consider how to incorporate them in their justice systems.

Law Commission of Canada. Law Commission of Canada Annual Report 2003-2004.
Established in 1997 by Act of Parliament in Canada, the Law Commission of Canada is an independent federal law reform agency. As such, the Commission provides advice to Parliament on reforming and modernizing Canada’s laws. In its 2003-2004 annual report, the Commission highlights its efforts over the course of the year in the following areas: governance relationships; social relationships; economic relationships; and personal relationships. With respect to social relationships in particular, the Commission produced a report to Parliament titled Transforming Relationships through Participatory Justice. This report contains a number of proposals whereby governments, justice officials, community groups, and individuals working in conflict resolution can support innovative justice processes which have citizen participation at their core.
Law Commission of Canada. Law Commission of Canada Annual Report 2000-2001: Engaging Canadians.
Established in 1997 by Act of Parliament in Canada, the Law Commission of Canada is an independent federal law reform agency. The Commission provides advice to Parliament on reforming and modernizing Canada’s laws. Central to the Commission’s mission is to engage Canadian citizens in the process of understanding and renewing law. This is pursued through various ways and means, including research papers, discussion groups, conferences, meetings, and Internet interactivity (e.g., e-mail, comments boards, webcasts, and online discussions). This document consists of its annual report for 2000-2001. Of particular focus, beginning on page 8, is elaboration of the Commission’s efforts in exploring restorative justice as an alternative approach to the delivery of criminal justice. As part of this, the Commission is also investigating the extension of restorative justice principles into other areas of law, such as family law, labor law, and commercial law.
Law Commission of Canada. Law Commission of Canada Annual Report 1999-2000: Relationships.
Can the idea of transformative justice better shape how law recognizes diverse social relationships, conceives communities as areas of shared interest, and reconciles the competing demands of individual identity and group identities? In Canada’s socio-demographically diverse society, more people are identifying themselves both as members of society as a whole and as members of groups and communities. They are finding recognition and purpose in the groups and communities with which they choose to be associated, or to which they are assigned by others. In this they acknowledge how much their personal identity is made up of identities formed in relationships with others. Modern law deals uneasily with these overlapping identities. It focuses on individuals and takes a narrow view of which group identities and communal relationships are legitimate. Only rarely do legal concepts even recognize group identity as an element of personal identity. Especially where community membership and affiliation reflect cultural differences, Canadian law has difficulty both in providing equal access to justice and in responding to alternative visions of what justice entails. (excerpt)
Law Commission of Canada. Law Commission of Canada Annual Report 2002-2003.
There is a close connection between restorative justice in criminal law and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in civil law. They both attempt to institute a new awareness of the processes through which conflicts are identified and structured, and of what might be the optimal corrective results for conflicts. Over the last few years, the Law Commission of Canada has consulted Canadians on their perceptions of the justice system and on the possibility that the principles and practices of restorative justice might provide an effective response to criminal and civil law conflicts. The Commission’s discussion paper, From Restorative Justice to Transformative Justice, has been widely distributed. The Commission also produced an educational video entitled Communities and the Challenge of Conflict: Perspectives on Restorative Justice, which explores the role of the community in conflict resolution, and funded several complementary projects dealing with conflict resolution. The Commission will publish a report on the challenges of transformative and consensual justice in 2003-2004. (excerpt)
Law Commission of Canada. Law Commission of Canada Annual Report 2001-2002.
The Commission’s research plan is structured around four broad themes: personal relationships, social relationships, economic relationships and governance relationships. These themes intentionally extend beyond the traditional understanding of the categories of the law (e.g. family law, criminal law and labour law) toward an examination that is without taboos or private preserves. It is a question of reflecting in an unbiased way on the effects of the law and of questioning the why of concepts in the law that, in many instances, appear sacrosanct. (excerpt)
Minister of Justice. Law Commission of Canada Performance Report For the period ending March 31, 2001.
The limitations of Canada’s justice system in responding to conflict have long been recognized. The civil court experience — for those Canadians who can access the courts — can leave all parties feeling dissatisfied and disenfranchised. The same can be said of the criminal court experience: victims often feel detached from the process and offenders are not always held responsible for the concrete consequences of their behaviour. The Commission has been exploring restorative justice as an alternative method of delivering criminal justice. It is also examining the potential for extension of restorative justice principles to other fields of law, such as family law, labour law and commercial law. (excerpt)
Minister of Justice. Law Commission of Canada Performance Report For the period ending March 31, 2002
Law that is relevant and effective and provides justice for all requires the involvement of citizens, a multidisciplinary approach to analysing problems and new concepts of law. The Law Commission engages Canadians in critical debate about the renewal of the law. It has developed an ambitious, multidisciplinary research plan responsive to concrete problems in Canadian law. It has also proposed new approaches to existing concepts of law as new socio-economic trends emerge. The Commission thus continues to fulfil the mandate set out in the Law Commission of Canada Act. (excerpt)
McGinness, Anthony and Murphy, Peter. A strategic review of the New South Wales Juvenile Justice System.
In approaching this task, the Review consulted widely including representatives from NSW agencies, academia, the Non-Government sector, other jurisdictions and with members of the Government and Opposition. Members of the public also made a range of submissions that were considered by the Review. The Review spoke with young people who were caught up in the juvenile justice system – this provided a very different perspective. A key task of the Review Team was the development of an evidence base to understand leading practice in Australia and overseas. This report consequently provides a comprehensive description of juvenile justice more broadly and more specifically about how it operates in NSW. (excerpt) The incorporation and use of restorative processes are discussed in the report.
Virginia State Crime Commission. Restorative justice.
Senate Joint Resolution 362 (SJR 362) was introduced by Senator Norment during the 2009 Regular Session of the General Assembly.2 Although SJR 362 was left in House Rules, the Executive Committee of the Crime Commission approved study of the resolution. As such, the Crime Commission was directed to examine a number of key issues regarding various types of restorative justice initiatives, specifically including victim-offender reconciliation programs, legal and practical issues, and possible recommendations relating to the preferred types of restorative justice. It should be emphasized that the primary purpose of the study was to provide an update and overview of restorative justice practices in Virginia, as the subject has not been examined in over 10 years. (excerpt)
Murphy, Peter and McDermott, Tom and McGinness, Anthony. Review of effective practice in juvenile justice.
This report identifies and describes effective practice in juvenile justice. The report reviews important international and Australian juvenile justice systems and draws from the ‘what works’ literature to evaluate a range of programs, as well as traditional penal and ‘get tough’ programs including juvenile incarceration. Specific issues of reducing Indigenous overrepresentation, and realising and coordinating whole-ofcommunity action are also discussed. The report will be used to build a comprehensive evidence base from Australia and overseas in order to test current practice and new ideas in the NSW context. (excerpt)
Directorate for Policy Development. White Paper on Restorative Justice.
The major proposal in this White Paper is the introduction of a system of Parole together with other procedures associated with the concept of Restorative Justice. Parole will enable a sentenced person to request release from custody in order to serve part of his or her sentence in the community, when evident improvement during the term of incarceration would give assurance that such sentenced person would be making concrete and serious efforts towards reform. In this regard, the establishment of a Parole Board as well as an Offender Assessment Board is deemed necessary. These two structures would manage the new processes envisaged to complement the shift towards new methods of Criminal Justice in Malta. The establishment of a Victim Support Unit is likewise a prerequisite for the proper management of victim involvement in the system. (excerpt)
South African Law Commission. Project 106: Juvenile Justice Report
Following ratification in 1995 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the South African Law Commission was requested to research juvenile justice and make recommendations to the South African Minister of Justice for the reform of this particular area of law. The Commission conducted this research through several stages: an Issue Paper published in 1997 for comment; consultation with relevant government and civil society organizations on the basis of the Issue Paper; a follow up comprehensive Discussion Paper in late 1998, accompanied by a draft Bill for reform of juvenile justice; and a series of consultations on the 1998 Discussion Paper with government departments and non-governmental organizations key to juvenile justice. This document from July 2000 constitutes the culmination of the Commission's research and consultations; it consists of the Commission's submission to the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development. The report contains a final proposed draft Child Justice Bill and chapters on the following topics: principles and framework for the legislation; age and criminal capacity; pre-trial procedures; detention of children and release from detention; assessment and referral; diversion; preliminary investigation; court procedures; sentencing; legal representation; appeal, review, and monitoring; and confidentiality and expunging of records.
Shaw, Margaret and Jané, Frederick. Family Group Conferencing with Children Under Twelve. A Discussion Paper
This discussion paper is concerned with the potential for using family group conferencing to respond to serious behavior by children under twelve. In the context of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, there is a commitment to consider the needs of young children under the age of criminal responsibility and to develop a coordinated approach. Family group conferencing is a form of collectiv e decision-maiking and conflict resolution which has been developed over the past ten years in a number of countries. It is seen as innovative, powerful, effective, and empowering for those involved. It provides for accountability for actions. It has been used for a widening range of situations including young offenders, child care and protection, and family violence and abuse. It can respond to the particular needs of individuals, whether victims or offenders and their families and communities, in a way which is sensitive to culture and specific histories and circumstances.
Belgrave, John. Restorative Justice: A Discussion Paper.
In New Zealand, when it was became apparent that the adoption of a restorative focus in the adult jurisdiction could constitute major new public policy, the NZ Ministry of Justice requested input on the wide range of views that had to be considered on this issue. This paper endeavoured to set out the main options that the ministry identified as a result of its investigations (without reaching a conclusion), so that those who wished to participate in the consultation knew the issues on which the ministry was seeking input.
South African Law Commission. Juvenile justice
This lengthy paper consists of a proposal for a cohesive child justice system in South Africa. The aim of the system would be to hold young people accountable for their actions while at the same time keeping them from entering deeper into the criminal justice system. Background to the paper includes a situation analysis, with particular reference to the context following the demise of apartheid and the emergence of a call for a comprehensive juvenile justice system. The paper proceeds with an overview of the proposed child justice system, and a comparative survey in relation to juvenile justice in other countries (New Zealand, Uganda, and Scotland). Principles and framework for the proposed system are articulated (reference is made to international declarations and guidelines on juvenile justice). On the basis of all of this, specifics of the system are detailed in the following areas: the issue of age in relation to criminal responsibility; pre-trial procedures pertaining to police powers and investigation; assessment and referral; preliminary inquiry or hearing before a magistrate; court procedures; sentencing; review, appeal, and monitoring systems; legal representation; and confidentiality and expungement of records. Specific recommendations are made, and the paper concludes with a proposed draft bill.
Attorney General’s Department. Community justice conferencing for adult offenders discussion paper
Beginning in 1999, under the auspices of the New South Wales Government, a Working Party studied the possibility of a conferencing scheme for adult offenders. This discussion paper resulted from that study. The paper consists of several parts. (See the Internet addresses above for the text of the paper.) The first two parts provide background to the paper and a model for a conferencing scheme. Chapter 1 details the need for a new approach to adult offending. Chapter 2 examines the idea of conferencing, as well as relevant programs, legislation, benefits, and limitations. Chapter 3 proposes a framework for community justice conferences for adult offenders in New South Wales. A bibliography concludes the discussion paper.
Marshall, Tony F. Restorative Justice: An Overview
This substantial report from the Home Office in the United Kingdom provides a comprehensive overview of restorative justice principles and practices: key ideas and perspectives; historical sketch; limitations; relevant organisations; practices; research on restorative justice; and major issues in the development of restorative justice.
National Community Service Committee. Community Service Programme: An Update National Community Service Committee.
This document provides an overview of the efforts to establish the use of community service orders in Uganda.

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