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Restorative Justice as a Better Practice for Managing the Need for Rehabilitation in Response to Youth Offending

NCJ Number
Tony Foley
Date Published
May 2013
10 pages
This paper explains how restorative justice principles facilitate the rehabilitation of young offenders.
The elements of restorative justice are not built around punishment, but rather the healing of the victim through restorative actions by the offender. In turn, this can lead to the offender's change in attitude and behavior. Most restorative justice programs do this through a "resolution" plan that may place burdensome mandatory obligations on the offender; however, this is not so much punishment as it is the mitigation of the harms caused by his/her offending behavior. The restorative process can also be the focus of deterrence, i.e., there are consequences for harmful behaviors, which can include limitations on freedom (curfews, no contact with customary friends, and other rules designed to limit opportunities for reoffending). Examples of such restorative justice programs are described for Australia, Northern Ireland, and Norway. These approaches are variations of conferencing for young offenders either as a diversion or a sentencing option. This consists of informal discussions among parties impacted by the offense, which results in a rehabilitative plan that benefits both the victim and the offender (rehabilitation). One of the principal values of restorative justice is its tailoring of responses to the needs of victims and offenders in specific instances of offending.