Youth restorative justice conferencing: facilitator's language - help or hindrance?
Youth crime is an ongoing concern in Australia. Victims, offenders and the community are all affected by crime and the current criminal justice approach seems both ineffective and inefficient. Restorative justice proponents have posited that their approach to justice through dialogue and negotiation in the conferencing process may be more effective than the traditional retributive justice. Restorative justice conferencing for young offenders is not, however, unfaultable in its ability to reduce the harm caused by crime or to reduce recidivism. The main focus of conferencing has been on the outcomes with limited attention paid to the process and its impact on a young offender’s sense of wrongdoing and remorse. There has been limited research undertaken into the oral competencies of young offenders in relation to their performance in conferencing, and equally limited studies on the specific use of language by facilitators. Other research has shown a coexistence of youth offending and developmental language and learning disabilities. The secondary study discussed in this paper reveals the language difficulties encountered by young offenders in the conferencing process. It is recommended that in order for young offenders to understand what they have been asked, to reflect on it, to express their thoughts and feelings, and for behavioural change to occur, the communication, both verbal and non-verbal, must be unambiguous, comprehensible and pitched at their individual demographic. More research is required into language use by conference facilitators and its impact on young offenders.
Contemporary Justice Review
Correctional Theory, Offender Treatment and Rehabilitation