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Alternative Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice: A Discussion (From Repositioning Restorative Justice, P 43-63, 2003, Lode Walgrave, ed., -- See NCJ-204284)

NCJ Number
Anne Lemonne
Date Published
21 pages
This chapter considers restorative justice programs in Norway and Denmark as supplemental programs on the periphery of the traditional penal system.
The history of the use of restorative justice techniques within the traditional justice system, beginning during the 1980’s and early 1990’s, is recalled. These programs generally were victim-offender mediation-type programs that operated at the periphery of the justice system and were widely criticized for not making a large impact on the justice system. Indeed, since the programs were marginalized and typically only used with young juvenile offenders who would not have been formally processed through the justice system in the first place, it is no wonder the programs made little impact. As governments have lent increasing support to the tenets of the restorative justice model, researchers and practitioners have sought to challenge the core values of both the restorative justice model and the traditional justice model in order to discover essential elements in which to base a fully fledged justice model. The next section considers the use of victim-offender mediation programs in Norway and Denmark, which share similarities but also contain significant differences. In Norway the use of mediation was viewed as a serious attempt to discover valid alternatives to the traditional penal system. In this mediation approach, conflict is given back to the principle actors who are allowed to settle their own dispute. In contrast, Denmark’s model of restorative justice utilized mediation as a supplement to the penal justice system, not as a viable alternative to it. The goal of the pilot mediation program was simply to give responsibility and voice to young offenders and to prevent further violence. The program was not widely used and was based on voluntary participation of the actors. When taken together, the restorative justice programs in Norway and Denmark have not produced the expected paradigm shift in the justice system. Both programs are not widely used and tend to only be involved with cases that would not be formally processed anyway. Thus, they supplement the justice system and do not, therefore, supplant them. The author asserts the necessity of developing a full-fledged model of restorative justice that has a substantial impact on the core values of the penal justice system. Notes, references