Co-option, coercion and compromise: challenges of restorative justice in Victoria, Australia
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Restorative justice (RJ) encompasses a widely diverging set of practices whereby those most affected by crime are encouraged to meet, to discuss the effects of harms caused by one party to another, and to agree upon the best possible redress of harms when appropriate. In its inception in the late 1970s, RJ was conceptualized and developed as an alternative to formal criminal justice practices. Since this time, however, RJ has largely moved from being an alternative to criminal justice practices to an ‘alternative’ practice within criminal justice systems. This institutionalization has resulted in the significant growth of RJ practices, but has also resulted in RJ being used for criminal justice system goals that are at odds with the needs of victims or offenders. This paper examines the use of the Youth Justice Group Conferencing Program in Victoria, Australia. Drawing from interviews with conference conveners, our research highlights problems related to administrative ‘constraints’ and ‘co-options’ in conferencing in terms of referrals, preparation of conference participants, and victim participation. Following presentation of findings, we conclude with a discussion of implications for the use of RJ within a highly institutionalized setting.
Contemporary Justice Review
© 2017 Taylor & Francis (Routledge). This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Contemporary Justice Review on 02 Apr 2017available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10282580.2017.1311194
Criminology not elsewhere classified