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Multi-problem Violent Youth: A Challenge for the Restorative Justice Paradigm (From Restorative Justice in Context: International Practice and Directions, P 1-22, 2003, Elmar G. M. Weitekamp and Hans-Jurgen Kerner, eds. -- See NCJ-201195)

NCJ Number
Raymond R. Corrado; Irwin M. Cohen; Candice Odgers
Date Published
22 pages
This chapter illustrates some of the challenges facing the implementation of restorative justice interventions for serious and violent offenders.
Restorative justice first gained popularity due to a general feeling that traditional, retributive systems of justice were failing victims, offenders, and the community. Since its introduction in the 1970's, there has been a growing debate concerning the role of restorative justice in addressing, deterring, and responding to young offenders. It is frequently only first-time offenders, or those that commit minor offenses, that are considered good candidates for most restorative justice interventions. There are a wide range of serious offenses and types of offenders for which restorative justice programs are not an option. It is unlikely for restorative justice to completely replace traditional retributive youth-justice systems in cases of serious and violent young offenders. Restorative justice aims to bring together the victim and the offender for the purposes of allowing both sides to understand the context of the offense, the impact on both parties, and to establish some form of agreed-upon reparation to the victim by the offender. Research that investigates the success of offender-victim mediation with serious or violent offenders suffers from two basic limitations. First, these studies have very small sample sizes. Second, the mediations are always held after the offender has served a significant period of time incarcerated. This indicates that there still exist obstacles for those that wish to see restorative justice replace existing criminal justice methods for dealing with serious and violent offenders. In regard to financial restitution, it is difficult to see how offenders might financially compensate victims for personal offenses, such as murder or sexual assault. In conjunction with a period of incarceration, restorative justice programs for serious and violent offenders might serve to enhance the public’s concerns over safety, rehabilitation, deterrence, and reintegration. There seem to be few compelling arguments for excluding serious and violent young offenders from the potential benefits of the restorative-justice paradigm, especially when the program occurs during or after a period of incarceration. 6 tables, 5 notes, 31 references