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NCJ Number: 219290 Find in a Library
Title: Aspirations of Restorative Justice Proponents and Experiences of Participants in Family Group Conferences
Journal: British Journal of Criminology  Volume:47  Issue:3  Dated:May 2007  Pages:491-509
Author(s): Margarita Zernova
Date Published: May 2007
Page Count: 19
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This study compared the aspirations of restorative justice advocates and the practical realities of restorative justice in action through an examination of a family group conferencing project in the United Kingdom.
Abstract: Results revealed that the majority of participants did not view conferences as punishments, but rather as a strategy aimed at offender rehabilitation. Interview data indicated that while offenders viewed the conferencing process as a painful experience, the majority of offenders did not view the conference as punishment. Victims displayed understanding, kindness, and forgiveness toward offenders during the conferences. The author speculates that the hospitable, informal, and friendly atmosphere of the conference may be a contributing factor to why offenders do not view conferences as punishment. The finding that offenders do not view conferencing as punishment lends support to proponents who view the restorative justice paradigm as a step away from the punishment paradigm currently ruling the criminal justice system. On the other hand, it detracts from arguments that restorative justice initiatives can serve as an alternative punishment to other traditional forms of punishment, such as community service or jail. Other findings throw doubt on the argument that the needs of the victim receive primary importance in the restorative justice process. Indeed, in some cases, the conferencing went on in the absence of the victim yet never went forward without the offender. Data were drawn from a study carried out in a family group conferencing project in England that dealt with juvenile offenders. Interviews were conducted with 47 participants in the family group conferences and the 6 professionals involved in the conferencing process or its development. Of the 47 participants interviewed, 13 were offenders, 17 were victims, 13 were offender supporters, and 4 were victim supporters. Offenses included assault, robbery, burglary, vehicle theft, theft and handling of stolen goods, and criminal damage. In addition to semistructured interviews, data also included nonparticipant observation of the family group conferencing process and documentary analysis. References
Main Term(s): Restorative Justice; Standards
Index Term(s): Comparative analysis; Family conferencing; United Kingdom (UK)
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