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Who owns this conflict? The challenge of community involvement in restorative justice

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As an alternative means of achieving justice, restorative practices are touted as community based. The ownership of decisions regarding the response to crime belongs to the key stakeholders, including victim(s), offender(s), and members of the community, both large and small. Each is invited to participate and through their participation, the stakeholders come to own the justice process and its outcomes. One challenge facing restorative practices lies in getting the community to participate. Without the community, several aspects of justice that are restorative, including forgiveness, support for participants, and reintegration are unlikely outcomes. This research examines community involvement in a victim–offender mediation program through observation and analysis of the agreements produced. The findings suggest that while restorative justice is theorized as community based, the community, in this case, appears absent.

Keywords: community; observation; participation; restorative justice; victim–offender mediation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Grand Valley State University, School of Criminal Justice, Grand Rapids,MI, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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