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NCJ Number: 204295 Find in a Library
Title: Alternative Practices for Juvenile Justice in Flanders (Belgium): The Case for Mediation (From Repositioning Restorative Justice, P 255-270, 2003, Lode Walgrave, ed., -- See NCJ-204284)
Author(s): Mia Claes; Frans Spiesschaert; Catherine Van Dijk; Igne Vanfraechem; Sigrid Van Grunderbeeck
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 16
Sponsoring Agency: Willan Publishing
Portland, OR 97213-3644
Sale Source: Willan Publishing
c/o ISBS, 5804 N.E. Hassalo Street
Portland, OR 97213-3644
United States of America
Type: Case Study
Format: Book (Softbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This chapter analyzes the history of juvenile justice law in Belgium and describes the restructuring of legal practice, with an emphasis on the implementation of three restorative justice initiatives with juveniles in the Flemish community.
Abstract: The Belgium juvenile justice system was based on the idea that children need protection and (re)education, not punishment. As such, there has been a strong tendency in Belgium to rely on welfare programs as a solution to juvenile delinquency. In 1990 an act was passed with the intention of improving legal safeguards for children and making a clear distinction between social assistance for minors in need of education and judicial reactions to juvenile crime. Despite this act, the dominant philosophy of the Flemish juvenile justice system remains one of protection and education. A growing concern for victims is emerging as a dominant discourse in justice systems throughout the world. Although this focus on victims has expanded the legal rights of victims, the principles expressed in the discourse rarely are seen in the day-to-day practice of justice systems. However, as a restructuring of legal practice in Belgium became increasingly necessary, mediation services, educational projects, and community service opportunities were initiated in Flanders (Belgium). Community service programs and educational projects as restorative juvenile justice sanctions evolved slowly in the Flemish system, with judges having the right to impose such sanctions in 1965 but not systematically doing so until the end of the 1980’s. Next, the history, development, and structure of victim-offender mediation are discussed. The purpose of victim-offender mediation is to bring together the offender, his or her parents, and the victim with the goal of restoring the mental and material harm caused by the offense. The seriousness of the crime is not a factor in recommending mediation in Belgium. Various mediation schemes are considered, including family group conferences, in which the offender and their network and the victim and their network meet to discuss the offense and agree on a plan to resolve the harm created by the offense. Questions remain about how much support should be given to mediation programs for juveniles and adults; in the future they should be assigned a more definitive status and be subjected to clear regulations and standards. Notes, references
Main Term(s): Foreign juvenile justice systems; Restorative Justice
Index Term(s): Belgium; Family conferencing; Juvenile justice reform; Mediation
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