Restorative Justice: from Theory to Practice: Volume 11

Cover of Restorative Justice: from Theory to Practice

Table of contents

(17 chapters)

This volume, “Restorative Justice: From Theory to Practice”, pays homage to the sociological foundations of the movement and explores the practical side of theoretical application. Contributions are from a range of leading theorists and methodologists whose primary interests lie in the development and advancement of restorative justice. These scholars offer diverse, cross-cultural perspectives which are particularly important given the major contributions to this area from outside of the United States. The popularity and implementation of restorative justice practices abroad necessitates the participation of such scholars and adds to the diversity and quality of the volume. The following chapters focus on theoretical advancement, methodological refinements, practical issues, or combinations of such.

After setting the political and personal contexts, defining key terms, and comparing Indigenous and restorative justice, I clarify three interrelated sites of contestation between and among feminist and anti-racist groups as these relate to alternative justice practices. They are the inequality caused by crime (victims and offenders), social divisions (race and gender politics), and individuals and collectivities (rights of offenders and victims). I outline an intersectional politics of justice, which seeks to address the conflicts at each site. My intersectional framework attempts to align victims’ and offenders’ interests in ways that are not a zero sum game, and to find common ground between feminist and anti-racist justice claims by identifying the negotiating moves each must make. It proposes that victims and offenders have positive rights that are not compromised by collectivities.

In the discussion that follows we provide an overview of the operation of informal justice and ‘punishment violence’ in Northern Ireland which has been a deep-seated a semi-permanent aspect of the violent political conflict and which has persisted well into the transition to peace. Eschewing a mono-causal framework we argue that ‘punishment violence’ can only be explained and hence understood in terms of the organizational dynamics of the various armed groupings; the economic and social deprivation caused by Northern Ireland's declining economic base and the economic costs of the conflict and finally by the deficiencies in the provision and nature of public policing. We then turn our attention to restorative justice as a panacea to the problem of ‘punishment violence’ and examine the effectiveness of a number of schemes and initiatives that currently operate in Northern Ireland. Finally, we suggest that the capacity of armed groups to demobilize and demilitarize and embrace non-violent means of dealing with conflict depends to a significant extent on the leadership skills of ex-combatants themselves.

This chapter examines how the aspirations of the restorative justice movement are broader than tends to be acknowledged in debates about the virtues and vices of restorative justice. It suggests that, along with trying to change the social response to crime, the movement is concerned to bring about transformations in the way conflict is handled in a range of institutions, in approaches to political reconciliation, in social organisation and in our understanding of the self. Also, along with introducing new procedures for handling social problems, the movement is concerned to bring about profound changes in the way problems are construed.

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?

CSF Buxmont Academy operates eight school/day treatment programs that use restorative practices, which includes a culture in which restorative characterizes staff interaction with students, and staff-to-staff and student-to-student relationships as well. This chapter presents analyses of the outcome experiences from two waves of discharge cohorts: 919 students during school years 1999–2000 and 2000–2001 and 858 during 2001–2002 and 2002–2003. Outcome measures include program completion rates, changes in self-esteem and anti-social attitudes, and the relationship between the length of program participation and post-release recidivism rates after controlling for individual risk factors. Recidivism rates were significantly related to length of program participation.

This chapter focuses on restorative/rehabilitative faith-based programs, in particular, a youth mentoring program conducted by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. We begin with a brief description of a faith- and community-based juvenile mentoring program of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (which we are in the process of evaluating) intended to provide community reintegration and restoration of adjudicated delinquents released from state juvenile correctional facilities. Then we move to the overlapping theoretical, philosophical, and empirical backgrounds of restorative justice, faith-based rehabilitative/restorative, and mentoring programs. We conclude with a review of programmatic and empirical issues in faith-based mentoring programs.

Although the research literature has been expanding on restorative justice inquiries in the last few decades, there are only a few U.S.-based studies that have focused on restorative justice programming within public schools. Specifically, research is even more scant on the implementation concerns surrounding school-based restorative justice initiatives. Discussions of the effectiveness of these approaches for reducing school disciplinary problems resulting in suspensions, expulsions, and arrests are also rather limited. This chapter presents an in-depth examination into these issues by providing a thorough description of a restorative justice program in its early implementation stages in several Denver, Colorado public schools. The chapter concludes with a discussion of preliminary program evaluation findings and focuses on the overall feasibility of incorporating restorative justice programming in schools.

This study presents findings from the South Carolina Youth Court Initiative, a statewide community corrections approach to delinquency prevention. The national youth court movement, its restorative justice theoretical underpinnings, and a brief history of youth courts in South Carolina are reviewed as a context for the present study. A mixed-methodological design utilizing a survey, costs–benefits analysis, site visits, and interviewing was employed to analyze the entire study population (N=21). Findings are presented which call into question the value of youth court performance in terms of effectiveness and expenditure.

This chapter considers and highlights a different approach to dealing with the white-collar and/or corporate offender that departs from the more commonly used punitive approach utilized by the American criminal justice system. Currently, terms of incarceration for individual offenders and the use of hefty fines and strict regulations against organizational defendants are commonly used draconian punishments. Therefore, this article is designed to remind readers of another viable approach to dealing with white-collar and/or corporate crime, one which utilizes a compliance or cooperative strategy of social control; that is the use of a system of restorative justice.

This chapter focuses on aspects of community restorative justice practices in Northern Ireland that have been central in challenging embedded cultures of violence within the current transitional context. It is argued that a strict adherence to restorative justice values, in combination with a flexible approach to the process used, are two core strengths of practice that have facilitated such a possibility. Moreover, these grassroots initiatives work well with organised, structured, and hierarchical communities, which in the Northern Irish context translate to paramilitary organisations. They are arguably less effective in relation to looser community structures, such as vigilante groups and individual violent responses to crime and conflict.

Advocates of restorative justice have recently argued that this reform movement is ideologically diverse, perhaps because the potential for program expansion and the realization of funding support is largely dependent on mainstream normative criminal justice system processes. This chapter examines the ideological underpinnings that shape restorative programming to the conclusion that restorative justice is philosophically liberal. The liberal agenda of the restorative justice paradigm is assessed in terms of implications for societal benefit, traditional justice system goals, and the future of restorative justice. Unintended and counterproductive consequences of the left-leaning nature of restorative justice are considered with particular emphasis on accountability. It is argued that the establishment of accountability-based theoretical research programs is necessary in order to further both theoretical and programmatic restorative justice initiatives.

Cover of Restorative Justice: from Theory to Practice
Publication date
Book series
Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
Book series ISSN