Professor Virginia Jeronimus
17, April 2016
Juvenile Restoration Programs
Restoration programs challenge the idea of the use of punishment towards an offender by introducing methods of rehabilitation between those affects and such reconciliation. Rather than punishing and incarcerating, this system would rather use concepts such as apology and reintegration. Easy to see why such programs may receive criticism from the public who would rather punishment as a means of correction. To better understand the programs there needs to be more detail.
The basic principles of restorative justice include: 1) crime is an offense against human relationships, 2) victim and the community are central to justice process, 3) the first priority of justice processes is to assist victims 4) the second priority is to restore the community to the degree possible, 5) the offender has a personal responsibility to victims and to the community for crimes committed,6) the offender will develop improved competency and understanding as a result of restorative justice experience, and 7) stakeholders share responsibilities for restorative justice through partnership for action (Siegel, Welsh, 195). Some of the methods used in the modern day restoration programs were inspired by Native American, Native Canadian, European, and Asian communities (Siegel, Welsh, 195). These methods include: negotiation, mediation, consensus building, sentencing circles, sentencing panels, and elder panels (Siegel, Welsh, 195). Within the sentencing circle the offender has an opportunity to express regret concerning actions committed and those attending the sentencing circles can propose way to repair the damage done (Siegel, Welsh, 196). Such a meeting includes a facilitator to keep the meeting going and is, of course, a natural party (Hines, Restoring Juvenile Justice).
In all of this, due process is respected on a volunteer basis and there must be a parent or guardian involved (Hines, Restoring Juvenile Justice). The suggestions of treatment can include Alcohol Anonymous and other substance abuse treatment programs (Siegel, Welsh, 196). There are a number of institutions that support restorative justice programs which include: schools, communities, and even the law enforcement system (Siegel, Welsh, 196). A view does exist that there is a need of balance in providing restoration. The principles according to Balance and Restorative Justice focus on holding offenders accountable to victims, providing competency development for offenders in the system so that they can pursue legitimate endeavors after release, and ensuring community safety (Siegel, Welsh, 196-197). These are essential to ensure offenders aren’t just getting off easy and that there is some progress to be made with the offender.
Though the criticism exists regards restorative justice as a weak approach to justice, success rate are rather high. Even though these programs have only been active for three decades there has been reduced violence, incarceration, recidivism, school suspensions and school expulsions (Eastern Mennonite University, How Effective is Juvenile Justice). Other documentation show restorative justice lowered “violent re-offending, victim’s desire for revenge, and costs” (Eastern Mennonite University, How Effective is Juvenile Justice). Concerning monetary payment for damages, Hines reports that restorative justice systems have restitution payments in percentages as high as 90% (Hines, Restoring Juvenile Justice).
With the information provided, restorative justice program has provided an essential service to the justice system. Rather than just punish the offender and be done with the case, this system puts much more work to better support the victim and offender. By restoring a relationship between an offender and a community, there are more opportunities for progress for both parties. They hear each others’ perspectives and learn what damages have occurred and the cost of repairing them. This system has impressive statistics that show it’s improvement in the lives of both individuals and communities.
Seigal, Larry J. and Welsh, Brandon G. Juvenile Delinquency: Theory, Practice and Law. Cengage Learning. 2015. Print
Hines, David J. Restoring Juvenile Justice. American Bar. Web. 2008
Eastern Mennonite University. How Effective Is Restorative Justice. PeaceMakers. Web. 2009