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Crossing cultural boundaries: Implementing restorative justice in international and indigenous contexts

Restorative Justice: from Theory to Practice

ISBN: 978-0-7623-1455-3, eISBN: 978-1-84950-559-8

Publication date: 19 May 2008


It was nearly twenty years ago that Howard Zehr (1990) wrote the first book about Restorative Justice (Changing Lenses), John Braithwaite (1989) wrote about “Crime, Shame and Reintegration” and New Zealand introduced the family group conference – a restorative process for resolving matters when children and young people became involved in offending.11Family group conferences are also used in the child welfare system when options are being considered for children thought to be in need of care or protection. These events marked the transition from a theoretical debate about alternatives to Western models of criminal justice to the recognition of a new theory, a new set of values and a new practical alternative to the Western-style court system. Since then, theory has evolved and many other jurisdictions have experimented with various processes for delivering restorative justice (Johnstone & Van Ness, 2007). Perhaps the most common form, especially for young people has been the use of the restorative conference in youth justice. From its beginnings in New Zealand, it has spread to Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Ireland, Macao, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Singapore, South Africa, Tonga, Thailand and the United States of America. Many different forms of restorative family conferencing for young people who have offended have emerged in these different states, provinces and countries for many different types of offences and for people from many different cultures. In this chapter, I want to briefly review what has been learnt about the transferability of the process. In particular, what are the questions that have been largely resolved and what issues still remain unresolved? And what are the key conditions which must be met for the process to work in different jurisdictions and among different peoples and what aspects of the process tend to vary to reflect the diversity of cultures and customs within and between peoples in various areas?


Maxwell, G. (2008), "Crossing cultural boundaries: Implementing restorative justice in international and indigenous contexts", Ventura Miller, H. (Ed.) Restorative Justice: from Theory to Practice (Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance, Vol. 11), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 81-95.



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