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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 204293 Find in a Library
Title: Restorative Justice in Prison? (From Repositioning Restorative Justice, P 221-236, 2003, Lode Walgrave, ed., -- See NCJ-204284)
Author(s): Ottmar Hagemann
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: Through a description of an empathy training class for serious adult offenders in a sociotherapeutic prison in Germany, this chapter questions whether the use of seemingly restorative justice practices in prison settings can be considered legitimately restorative in nature.
Abstract: Abolitionist critiques of the traditional criminal justice system are presented as the author posits that restorative justice approaches may fit well with the abolitionist agenda of abolishing prisons and restoring social equity in relationships. Some proponents of restorative justice practices claim there is no place for punishment in a restorative model and put forth a pro-community, pro-democracy position on restoring the harm created by criminal offending. However, restorative justice practices are far from positioned to impose widespread reforms on the criminal justice system. Indeed, most restorative justice practices are aimed only at juvenile and less serious offenders and have cautiously remained at the periphery of the traditional justice system. Restorative techniques have been implemented with serious adult offenders in prisons, but the seemingly restorative nature of these programs are in question because, in the end, the offender is still in prison and perhaps even on death row. The author describes his empathy training program for serious adult offenders in a sociotherapeutic prison in Germany. Participants enroll in the “Focus on Victims” training program for the first 3 months of their stay in the institution. Eight separate modules take the offender from a warming up session, through a realization of the harm created by the offense, and to mediation and reconciliation. The experience with the program has thrown light on three relationships that must be restored during the training process: (1) the internal relationship between the offender’s “normal” side and “criminal” side; (2) the relationship between the prisoner and society; and (3) the relationship between the offender and the victim and their supporters. An analysis of the training program reveals that the intention of the training is clearly restorative but the actual process and outcome cannot be considered restorative because of the punitive nature of the prison setting. In fact, the author agrees with other researchers who would caution that such restorative “add-ons” to the traditional criminal justice system simply serve to lend the traditional system legitimacy and help to prop it up against widespread reform efforts. Notes, references
Main Term(s): Inmate Programs; Restorative Justice
Index Term(s): Adult offenders; Criminal justice ideologies; Prisonization
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