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Limitations to Restorative Justice

Are there cases or situations in which restorative justice cannot be used, or should be used only with great care?

Henderson, Angela D. and Jackson, Margaret A.. Restorative Justice or Restorative Health: Which Model Best Fits the Needs of Marginalized Girls in Canadian Society?
The studies show that marginalized girls tend to come from homes with emotionally and physically abusive caregivers. This often pressures them to leave home to live on the streets, surviving through prostitution and petty crime, without access to physical and mental health services. Attempting to cope on the street often brings contact with the justice system, which further alienates them from a normative socioeconomic lifestyle. In the justice system, however, they do often receive health services not available to them in the community. Based on these findings regarding the needs of marginalized girls, this article recommends a prevention strategy for these girls that the authors call a "restorative health" (RH) model. Under this model, publicly funded health-oriented services are offered to these girls without any connection to the justice system. The popular restorative justice model comes into play only after a youth has been drawn into contact with the justice system. The RH model, on the other hand, focuses on meeting marginalized girls' mental and physical health needs without reference to any accountability interventions related to delinquent behavior. This model prevents further marginalization under the stigmatizing influence of the justice system while meeting health needs that may place a girl at risk for deviant coping behaviors. One of the studies reviewed in this article involved an examination of the lives of immigrant and refugee girls in the Canadian Province of British Columbia. The second study involved interviews with 28 girls living in extreme poverty as sex trade workers or under conditions of sexual exploitation in rural areas of British Columbia. (Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,
Hudson, Barbara. Restorative Justice and Gendered Violence: Diversion or Effective Justice?
Although the last few years have seen considerable advances in the theoretical clarification of restorative justice as well as proliferation of programmes putting the ideas into practice, there are still some important questions that remain unresolved. These revolve around the issues of the range of cases and offenders for which restorative justice is appropriate, and the extent to which restorative justice needs to incorporate due process safeguards and standards such as proportionality, which are important in formal criminal justice. After reviewing some of the issues that have arisen in established restorative justice usages (juvenile justice; less serious offences) the article looks at more controversial applications—domestic violence, sexual assault—and examines the arguments for and against their suitability for restorative justice processes. It is suggested that arguments against extension to these ‘hard cases’ usually envisage restorative justice as diversion, while arguments for its application to these seriously harmful and antisocial wrongs advocate restorative justice as effective justice. The author concludes that questions of range and questions of standards cannot be dealt with in isolation, and that the wider the range of offences and offenders restorative justice deals with, the more it may merge with formal criminal justice.
Hudson, Barbara. Restorative Justice: The Challenge of Sexual and Racial Violence
The paper reviews the theory and policy proposals of recent formulations of abolitionism and restorative justice. Challenges are posed to some of the assumptions of abolitionism by considering its applicability to acts of violence against women, children, and minority ethnic citizens. In particular, the assumptions that dangerous offenders are few, and that, the 'meaning' of harmful act is negotiable between perpetrators and victims are called into question. The symbolic function of criminalization and penalization is discussed. The paper considers whether the strategies suggested by recent proponents of forms of abolitionism and restorative justice can satisfy doubts about the adequacy of earlier abolitionist formulations in relation to both the symbolic and instrumental functions presently served by criminal law. Whilst calls for further criminalization and penalization of racial, sexual and domestic violence are understandable , the abolitionist case that retributive justice is more likely to increase rather than reduce such violence, and to leave the victim unsatisfied, is defended.
Is there justice in restorative?
I’m not into remorse
by Lynette Parker Lots of people will ask me about offenders feeling remorse when they go through a restorative conference. Trainee facilitators will ask whether or not I thought a client showed remorse during a pre-conference. People curious about the process will ask if those who have committed crime actually show remorse. The most difficult conversations occur when I talk to a victim of crime about participating. They may ask if the offender has shown remorse in my meetings with him/her.
John Braithwaite video introduction to restorative justice
John Braithwaite is a leader in restorative justice (and in many other fields). He teaches at Australian National University which has now posted an 18 minute video in which he explains the basic theories and applications of restorative justice. It is well done, and is presented in segments, which means it can be used in whole or in part.
Justice? What about understanding?
by Lynette Parker Scrolling through RSS feeds I saw a link for, “After driving on sidewalk to pass school bus, woman must wear ‘idiot’ sign.” I admit clicking the link to see what it was about. The first line quotes someone as declaring, “Justice has been served!” before going into how a woman had driven on a sidewalk to get around a parked school bus with children on it. The penalty was to stand near the scene of the incident wearing a sign that says, “Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid the school bus.” She will also pay a $250 fine.
Kaptein, Hendrik and Malsch, Marijke. Crime, Victims, and Justice. Essays on Principles and Practice
This collection of essays has its origins in a conference called "Restorative Justice: Criminal Justice for Victims?" The conference was held in Amsterdam on 1 December 2000. Representing various fields - including law, psychiatry, philosophy, and the social sciences - the speakers at the conference were prominent scholars from Canada, the United Kingdom, and The Netherlands. This book contains updated editions of key papers from the conference, along with additional essays written specifically for inclusion in this volume. The central topics of the conference and the book are restorative justice, its relationships to current criminal justice systems, and its possible benefits for victims and offenders. More specifically, essays deal with a number of issues concerning victims of crime, issues such as victims' rights and needs, satisfaction for victims, compensation for victims, open justice, and punishment and retribution in relation to reparation. The contributors span a range from strong proponents of restorative justice to those who find the introduction of restorative justice into criminal justice processes problematical in significant ways.
King, Michael S. Non-adversarial justice and the coroner's court: A proposed therapeutic, restorative, problem-solving model
Increasingly courts are using new approaches that promote a more comprehensive resolution of legal problems, minimise any negative effects that legal processes have on participant wellbeing and/or that use legal processes to promote participant wellbeing. Therapeutic jurisprudence, restorative justice, mediation and problem-solving courts are examples. This article suggests a model for the use of these processes in the coroner's court to minimise negative effects of coroner's court processes on the bereaved and to promote a more comprehensive resolution of matters at issue, including the determination of the cause of death and the public health and safety promotion role of the coroner. (author's abstract)
Lemonne, Anne. Alternative conflict resolution and restorative justice: a discussion
As Anne Lemonne observes, advocacy and application of restorative justice have grown considerably since its emergence in the 1970s. This growth has led to a significant variety in rationales for and approaches to restorative justice. In this context, the development of victim-offender mediation has often been viewed as a key element in the implementation of restorative justice. At the same time, there has been ambiguity about the practical application of restorative justice in general and of victim-offender mediation in particular. Some have criticized aspects of the actual implementation of restorative justice, and others have criticized it for occupying a peripheral position in criminal justice. These criticisms have been aimed at times particularly at the practice of victim-offender mediation (or other alternative forms of dispute settlement such as community boards and group conferencing). With all of this in mind, Lemonne surveys developments in criminal policy and restorative justice in Norway and Denmark especially.
Lind, E. Allan.. Social Conflict and Social Justice: Lessons from the Social Psychology of Justice Judgments.
Professor Lind explores some key psychological processes associated with social conflict. Specifically, he examines the social psychology of justice and the implications of justice judgments for social conflict and its reduction. He especially notes the sense of receiving a "fair process" in relation to satisfaction with court mediation and justice judgments.
Lubin, Jesse. Are We Really Looking Out for the Best Interests of the Child? Applying the New Zealand Model of Family Group Conferences to Cases of Child Neglect in the United States.
This Note advocates for state laws to be amended to implement family group conferencing (FGC) as the first step in cases of alleged child neglect. FGC was developed in New Zealand nearly twenty years ago and have since become a realistic method of balancing the best interests of the children, families, agencies, courts, and communities involved in the child welfare system. A FGC is a meeting among family members and professionals that is conducted in order to develop a plan for a child who is the victim of neglect. FGC places the family at the center of the welfare proceedings and empowers them to reach a solution without having to resort to the often lengthy and expensive adversarial court system. If FGC is incorporated into the child welfare systems throughout the United States, communication between the parents, social services, and the courts could increase, helping families adequately address the problem of neglect and getting the children out of the child welfare system quickly and more efficiently.
McDermott, M. Joan and Ferdinand, Theodore N.. "Joining Punishment and Treatment in Substantive Equality"
How can justice and treatment be combined so that the rights of victims are upheld and offenders are rehabilitated? Substantive justice administers punishment proportionate both to the offense and the offender’s condition while also providing treatment according to the offender’s needs. Substantive justice means that similar offenders ought to experience not the same objective punishment but similar degrees of subjective pain. Judges already use distinctive standards in sentencing juveniles and women, and this practice should be extended to all offenders; that is, to men and white collar offenders, not simply with minor fines but with all forms of punishment and treatment. It should be codified in law so that our justice system can provide generally better protection to victims and better treatments to offenders. author's abstract.
More equal societies do better at almost everything
from Ben Duncan's entry on Ben's Bookshop: The Spirit Level by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson is a statistical romp through the data on a range of social ills: mental ill-health, teenage pregnancy levels, poor life expectancy, levels of crime and violence in society, and so on, and it finds something that is either remarkable, or stands to reason, depending on your perspective. In short, Picket and Wilkinson conclude, the more equal a society is - the smaller the gap between the richest and poorest, in other words - the better that society performs, at pretty much everything, for pretty much everyone.
Penal Reform International. Avant projet diagramme des problemes
abstract unavailable
PiRi explores restorative sessions
from Sue Klassen's article in the newsletter of Partners in Restorative Initiatives (PiRi): PiRI is exploring the possible use of Restorative Sessions, based on research conducted by Lorenn Walker in the Pono Kaulike program in Hawaii. This pilot program, which reportedly achieved a nearly 50% drop in recidivism and high satisfaction from participants, combined traditional restorative conferencing procedures with Restorative Sessions, meetings that allow offenders to discuss their situations even when their victims decide against joining in the process. Like PiRI’s work in the Town Courts, the Pono Kaulike program deals with misdemeanor level cases in which many victims choose not to participate.
PiRi explores restorative sessions
Proietti-Scifoni, Gitana and Daly, Kathleen . Gendered violence and restorative justice: the views of New Zealand Opinion Leaders.
Although New Zealand has been a pioneer in the development and expansion of restorative justice in the adult and youth criminal justice systems, it has taken a more cautious approach to using restorative justice in adult cases of gendered violence. We present interviews of 19 New Zealand Opinion Leaders on the appropriateness of restorative justice for partner, family, and sexual violence, and child sexual abuse (CSA). We found that three groups, rather than two, better describe the range of positions: these are the Supporters, Skeptics, and Contingent Thinkers. All viewed child sexual assault as least suitable for restorative justice, with relatively more support in cases of partner, family, and sexual violence. The Opinion Leaders' positions were shaped by their experiences with restorative justice, professional position, racial and ethnic identities, and views of the criminal justice system. The participants' views were complex and varied, and not easily contained in a simple `for' or `against' dichotomy. (author's abstract)
RJC briefing on Ministry of Justice consultation: Getting it right for victims and witnesses
from the Restorative Justice Council website: On 30th January 2012 the Ministry of Justice published Getting it right for victims and witnesses as a consultation document. Alongside a wide range of proposals to reform both support services for victims and witnesses, and criminal injuries compensation, the Government’s desire to develop provision of restorative justice for victims of crime is clear.
Refuge. Refuge response to Restorative Justice - Government consultation
Refuge is a national charity in the United Kingdom that works on behalf of women and children experiencing domestic violence. This paper consists of Refuge’s response to a government consultation on restorative justice. Specifically, it is a response to questions about extending restorative justice beyond the sphere of youth offending into other spheres, such as sex crimes and domestic violence. In general, while Refuge welcomes the application of restorative justice in the area of youth offending, and it acknowledges some ways in which restorative justice may be appropriately extended to the areas of sex crimes and domestic violence, it presents a number of arguments raising serious concerns and reservations about the use of restorative justice in cases of violence against women and children.

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