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NCJ Number: 220660 Find in a Library
Title: In the Shadow of Penal Law: Victim-Offender Mediation in Germany and France
Journal: Punishment and Society  Volume:9  Issue:4  Dated:October 2007  Pages:395-415
Author(s): Stefanie Trankle
Date Published: October 2007
Page Count: 21
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines Victim-Offender Mediation (VOM) as a form of Restorative Justice (RJ) in Germany and France.
Abstract: Analyses suggest that the interaction process is an important factor when evaluating the impact and functioning of VOM; mediation as a communication process might be too demanding for many participants, lacks a precise and manageable set of aims, might suffer from insufficiently professionalized mediators, and doesn’t function well within the system of penal law. VOM is based on ideals that are not easily compatible with the structural condition of the judicial framework. Both the German and French mediation boards observed shared similar obstacles, the main problem being the structural link between mediation and the penal system. Both the French House of Justice and the German Court Aid tended to reduce the mediation process to a simple negotiation of interests or to a shortened criminal trial, whereas mediation sessions carried through by private non-profit organizations were likely to drift into another setting such as marriage counseling or psychotherapy. Recommendations for good VOM practice stress the need to clearly define aims of the mediation, to be simple and manageable for the average person, and to ensure that mediators work with a realistic goal in mind rather than a more ideological goal. Mediators should ensure participants have been provided a clear definition of what the mediation includes and excludes, and the procedure should stop if it drifts towards a situation that requires further professional help like marriage counseling or psychotherapy. VOM seemed inappropriate for problems in which the mediation concerned entire families as the situation tended to be too complex for the setting. RJ conferences which can include all family members and allow more time might be a more appropriate model. People’s procedural rights must be guaranteed and imbalance of power must be avoided. Finally, pressure on the mediators to succeed should be avoided by financing the mediation boards independently. Notes, references
Main Term(s): France; Germany; Victim-offender reconciliation
Index Term(s): Mediation; Model programs; Restorative Justice
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