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Clinical relevance of restorative justice

Hall, G. (2010) Clinical relevance of restorative justice. In: Brown, J.M. and Campbell, E.A., (eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Forensic Psychology. Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge, pp. 354-360.

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Restorative justice is practised in many jurisdictions around the world in different formats and with significant input from indigenous communities (see, for example, Weitekamp and Kerner 2002, 2003; Walgrave 2003).

Marshall's (1999) definition of restorative justice as being ‘a process whereby all the parties with a stake in a specific offence collectively resolve how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future’ has been adopted by the United Nations (McCold 2006). The notion of restorative justice has noted common appeal, but in practice it enjoys considerable variation, and confusion (Morris 2002), and includes: conferencing; victim–offender mediation; sentencing circles; restitution programmes; and/or shuttle mediation. Any or all of these may occur pre-charge, post-charge (but prior to conviction), pre-sentence (post-conviction), post-sentence and pre-release.

Restorative justice procedures may be used with children in schools, youth in the juvenile justice system and adults in a range of conflict settings including corporate regulation (Braithwaite 2003); there is even a restorative justice prison system (Robert and Peters 2003). Mediators or facilitators of conferences can be police officers, trained mediators, volunteers, public servants or court officials.

Restorative justice is not without its critics (Levrant et al. 1999) and its corresponding supporters (Morris 2002). Given the above variations, the tools of the trade for psychologists, namely reliability, validity and operational definitions, become seriously problematic. Comparisons, and thus replications, are difficult because of these differences (see also McCold 2003; Shapland et al. 2007).

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Law
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Copyright: 2010 Cambridge University Press
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