quarta-feira, janeiro 25, 2006

Some thoughts

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"1. R J programmes can be used to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system, to divert cases out of it, and to provide it with a range of constructive sanctions.

2. Postulate: that the community (individuals, businesses and other organizations) have a responsibility to contribute to the community’s response to harmful acts.

3. Restorative conferencing (as opposed to one-to-one mediation) can also take place when there is no identifiable victim, or the victim does not choose to take part, or there is a surrogate victim or a representative of the victimized croup or community; for example vandalism, dangerous driving, company fraud.

4. Additional process goal: where there is a relationship between the two parties, it should be recognised that both may have been at fault and both may feel themselves to have been victimized.

5. Additional R J objective: identify social factors that lead to crime, and inform those responsible for crime reduction strategy and social policy.

6. The ultimate aim is that all cases should be dealt with as restoratively as possible. This means that the norm would be that victim and offenders, and possibly their families and supporters and other members of the community , would be offered the opportunity to meet and discuss the offender’s action and the appropriate response. In certain cases this would be departed from, especially if the victim or offender is unwilling to meet; the accused denies involvement or claims the right to a court appearance, the facilitators assess that there is a risk of physical or emotional harm, or the court decides that it is necessary in the public interest to impose additional measures such as restriction or deprivation of liberty. The reasons for such decisions should be fully explained to all concerned. when first introduced, programmes may be limited to certain kinds of case, such as juvenile offenders, but such limits should be enlarged as soon as enough experience and confidence has been gained.

7. A restorative justice process does not necessarily rule out all imposed sanctions, but they should be seen in a restorative light; fines as reparation for harm caused to the community, probation as supervising and assisting the offender while he or she carries out the reparation, or repeatedly refuse to do so, and prisons as places for the detention of those who present a serious risk of serious re-offending while they do so.

8. It should be recognised that the community, its statutory agencies, and NGOs, have a responsibility to enable the offender to make reparation, for example by providing work suited to his abilities and treatment or training that he needs. Evaluation of an R J programme should take account of the adequacy of these services.

9. Additional objective: Identify factors that lead to crime, and inform the authorities responsible for crime reduction strategy. The restorative process is an open one which encourages frank discussion of the background of the offence in a spirit of explanation, not making excuses. If this reveals that a disproportionate number of offenders come from an area with particular deficits, for example in schools, employment or recreation facilities, action could then be taken to remedy these.

10. The restorative process can be provided either by an NGO, or by a statutory agency such as social services that is not part of the criminal justice system, or by the CJS. The first provides more community involvement, but needs to be assured of stable funding and adequate safeguards for participants. It is also ion a stronger position to uphold restorative values and resist the encroachment of retributive ones. they are also more likely to have experience of working with volunteers. Statutory agencies, outside or within the CJS, are likely to need considerable retraining of their staff to internalize restorative values; their funding tends to be (but is not necessarily) more secure, but if they do not use volunteers, they are likely to be limited in the number of staff they can employ, and hence the number of cases they can handle.

11. In cases where both parties know each other, a solution may be found by referral or self-referral to a neighbourhood mediation centre, thus reducing the burden on the CJS. Other cases, having been reported as crimes, can be referred similarly, with or without a warning or reprimand. "

Martin (Wright) 25.1.2006

A Member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Web Ring

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