Using Restorative Justice In The Criminal Justice System

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The study A Model of School Violence Prevention article by Martha Frias-Armenta et al explores the alternative approaches to punishment in Mexican schools for bullying. The evidence was provided that that 43.2% of staff members that worked within Mexico’s educational reported their involvement in different types of school bullying within their institution. 1.3 million Middle school and high school adolescences reported in a poll that they had been subjected to some form of abuse or harassment from there other peers. Mexican school reported forbidden activities within the school premises such as the sale of illegal substances and underage alcohol consumption between students. Gangs were also reported to be prevalent and subjecting others to a negative impact on their educational environment. Staff were reliant on school procedures such as parental meetings, exclusion from study sessions or a suspension from school activity programs. Occasionally when cases were severe involvement was called from law enforcements to assist with reckless behavior. The international survey on Teaching and Learning (TALIS) presented that alongside students’ academic staff members were also affected which effected the educational authorities.

The aim of the study is to focus on the different types of ways to restore relationships between pupils. Mexican government introduced a school restorative justice program called the National Program for Social Prevention of Violence and Delinquency. An independent mediator was enrolled to facilitate meetings to repair damage between victims of bullying and the offender. There were government documents that outlined student disciplinary procedure Agreement 97 and agreement 98. Agreement 97 stated that punishment ought to be constructive and formative without risk of having negative impact on student’s personalities. This was despite previous mention of allowing for exclusion from school for a maximum of 8 days. It was stated in Agreement 98 that sanctions should be of a nature that included contacting parents, analysis individual files and subjecting students from isolation from school activities.

It was concluded in the paper that introducing restorative justice within the Mexican schools would enable those responsible for mistreatment to understand the implications their actions had and to acknowledge their responsibility to take steps to correct this behavior. In reference to the cited paper ‘Young Offenders speak about meeting their victims: Implications for future programs’ by LS Abrahams et al concluded that participants would then be able to see the emotional consequences and focus on changing their behavior. All members involved gave permission and was involved voluntarily.

Suspension was reduced due to the implementation of the restorative programs and academic performances were reduced with a safer school environment. This effected the wider communities as disputes were no longer happening outside of school in the local areas. This contradicts the government’s suggestion that the community was not considered as there was still gang members within their educational system. The process is supposed to enable the wrongdoer to fit into the community and fulfil their emotive and social desires. The study confidently explicates that the restorative Justice program applied a level of respect amongst students and teachers as they implied the restorative justice to their student syllabus. While by tradition they are used in schools it is not restricted and can be applied in the community, workplaces and jails to help resolve conflict. An influence on this paper was The cart before the horse; The challenge and promise of restorative justice consultation in schools. Journal of educational and Psychological Consultation by Songs et el.

Literature Review

This literature review will observe whether recent research displays restorative justice to be effective in youth offenders. Restorative justice contains three partakers: victims, youth offenders and community. The use of restorative justice applications have been an cumulative area within the youth justice system, predominantly in England and Wales where support has been received by the Youth Justice Board. There has been evidence of progressive results relating to the application of restorative justice practices. These are inclusive of victim and offender gratification, and offenders recognising an improved logic of control over their future behaviour.

Youth restorative Justice can be practiced in three different ways. Youth offending panels, restorative conferencing and police led restorative cautioning. It can be argued that a youth offenders reasons for crime committing, comprehension of breaking the law, and the consequences their subjective and emotional development partakes in their capability to make choices around their conduct will not be the same as an adult who commits an offence. The process of restorative justice is inarticulate, youth are placed in an environment which consists of a facilitator and often a d group of adults whom are educated or verbally skilled. This could put pressure on the offender to communicate in a way that’s meaningful to adults. As youth offenders may already have low levels of education and behavioral issues, these risk factors will contribute to poor language and communication skills (Riley and Hayes, 2017).

It is also deemed restorative justice for youth offenders is deemed as a positive feature. They would not need to be located in jail. They would not also need to be removed from their own communities, decreasing the probabilities of them reoffending. Some youth offenders appreciate the discretion of restorative meetings, as the panel are not able to discuss the content of meetings externally of the panel. Another advantage found is that it’s a good opportunity for early intervention. Contradictory of Riley and Hayes is the importance of coming face to face with their victim and a panel of inviting but unacquainted strangers gives the youth offender a perception that their wrong is not accepted and will not be tolerated.

A critic of restorative justice is that youth offenders believe that restorative justice may only work for less serious offenders. There are also concerns that restorative justice programs may only work for minor youth offenders and not for violent crime. As youth tend to commit less crime than adults it is considered that restorative justice is more effective with youth offenders as the nature of their crimes tend to be less serious and able to be dealt with by less formal responses to crime. With this in hindsight it can be considered that cases such as murder or domestic violence would not be effective as it may cause more emotional trauma for the victim facing their perpetrator. Considering this and the success rate of restorative justice restorative justice should not always be excluded from particular types of crime and should be done on the victims request and with a higher level of risk assessment. This is argued by woman’s aid who suggested that due to domestic abuse having an long term effect on victims it can be potentially harming having the victim feel re-victimised. In contracts to International Restorative Justice programs, New Zealand responds to crimes such as rape with restorative justice programs for their youth

In whichever form it takes, the advocates of restorative justice for youth have over the time, voiced an amount of claims concerning the effectiveness of restorative justice processes, predominantly claiming a number of constructive results. It is claimed that restorative justice is a win-win method for all participants. Victims, youth offenders and communities are all thought to be at advantage with the service. Victims are directly benefitted through reparation but also because there is the chance for them to describe to the offender the effect of the wrongdoing, a method that can support healing. Communities benefit by a reduction in crime levels, as restorative justice is meant to decrease reoffending rates. As a final point, youth offenders are at beneficial to the service as they are more likely not to reoffend and are then able to maintain law abiding lives. These benefits for restorative justice are questioned, if systems are applied in a manner that it not correct to the ethos of restorative justice but are rather tainted by other ethos (van Stokkom, 2015).

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Restorative conferencing has strong influences to Braithwaite’s theory of reintegrative shaming. According the Braithwaite there are two forms of shaming. When a particulars behavior is labeled criminal they become socially excluded. The theory of reintegrative shaming has focus on forgiveness and repentance, this idea plays on a person’s conscientiousness in the hope that a relationship of respect is built (Bolitho, 2011).

It is evident that it is not the reintergrative shaming phase that leads to accomplishment in restorative justice, perhaps merely the positive emotive power of the procedures, and that this leads the specific to search for more, alike, experiences. Mediation and reparation has been used between offenders and victims in the UK since the 1970s. Together with the Crime and Disorder Act 1998and the Youth Justice and criminal Evidence Act 1999 the introduction of restorative justice was introduced as a response to juvenile offending.

There is robust evidence that supports the benefits of restorative justice system. The past two decades has seen an undisputed success in the criminal justice system in youth justice. There has been a fallen figure of youth being presented to the youth justice system and the number of youth serving custodial sentences has plummeted. Subsequently there has been a suppression in cautions and sentences by 82% in the past ten years applying to the number of youth (Devlin & O'Mahony, 2006).

Given that restorative justice is not restricted to a particular type of offence it provides the opportunity to divert young people from the criminal justice system when they have displayed antisocial behavior and committed minor offences. By diverting offenders from the criminal justice system and into restorative justice statistics show that it contributes to a lesser level of offending and saves considerable amounts of money. In 2008 a report published by Joanna Shaplands revealed that every £1 spent on restorative justice saves the criminal justice system £8. Shapland report also concluded that although funds were saved it did not directly have an impact on the value for money in terms of reduced reconviction. Dr Theo Gaurielides argued that more research should be conducted looking at the types of crime committed when undertaking restorative justice procedures (McIvor, 2013).

The early justice system involved restorative justice in police stations where cautioning was used as a punishment to crime and youth offending. It is now becoming increasingly popular to use restorative justice in courtrooms in the UK.

The Criminal Justice Act 2003 prepared provision for restorative justice as part of a Supervision and Activity Requirement. This permits restorative justice to form a portion of an community order. The Criminal Justice Act has been amended to The Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014, revoking the Supervision and Activity Requirement and changing them with a solo original Rehabilitation Activity Requirement. The Rehabilitation Activity Requirement gives better flexibility for those providing probationary services to determine the rehabilitative schemes provided to offenders. In December 2013 the Crime and Courts Act 2013 came in to effect, providing judges the power to defer giving a sentence in order for restorative justice to proceed with the participation from all parties. The court are also able to adjourn cases, and in some cases may consider it appropriate to do, to facilitate facilitate restorative justice procedures.

The Crown and Courts Act introduction ensures that restorative justice is accessible at the entire steps of the criminal justice system for the first time in the UK. The criminal justice system imposed that an offender must mandatory complete restorative justice is served as part of their punitive outcome in court. Restorative Justice within the criminal justice system is apparent at all stages but should not affect the sentence in which he/she receives. If a juvenile is before the court it is up to the sentencing court to decide what weight of participation the offender must contribute to when sentencing.

The courts may impose one of the following types of restorative practices. A circle meeting known as a victim/offender conference which will involve many people such as a trained facilitator, family members or supporters of the victim/offender. The meeting can also be attended by professionals such as social workers. This meeting will outline steps to reparation. When members of the public have been affected then a community conference type restorative meeting is held with those affected by a particular crime or offender. A community conference is facilitated the same as a victim/offender conference but differs due to the amount of people involved. Another form that may be imposed by the court is a shuttle restorative justice meeting. The involvement of a trained facilitator carefully relies messaged between the victim and offenders who do not meet in person. This may be via a recorded video, voice recording or written. This stage may lead to a circle type meeting in the future.

Using Restorative Justice in the criminal justice system has helped victims move on in their lives and given offenders the tools to turn their life from negative to positive. Giving them the opportunity to hear the impact of their crimes from their victims and take responsibility. Restorative justice is essentially committed to putting victims at the forefront of the criminal justice system, in order to have their say and reflect upon the experience they encountered, assisting the criminal justice system in the reduction of crime within the United Kingdom. Recent restorative justice strategies include introducing more restorative justice processes into the criminal justice system such as we’ve introduced restorative police cautioning , as well as aspiring to offer 75% of all victims of youth crime participation in restorative processes. Restorative justice also looks to develop an evidence headquarters for the use of restorative justice through funding a number of pilots on topics like the relationship between restorative justice and prevention of re-offending, in addition to developing and introducing constructive, practical and valuable guidelines for people working in restorative justice (Devlin & O'Mahony, 2006).


  1. Riley, M., & Hayes, H. (2017). Youth restorative justice conferencing: facilitator’s language – help or hindrance?. Contemporary Justice Review, 21(1), 99-113. doi: 10.1080/10282580.2017.1413358 (Riley & Hayes, 2017).
  2. Devlin, R., & O'Mahony, D. (2006). Restorative youth conferencing: involving victims in criminal justice. Criminal Justice Matters, 64(1), 18-47. doi: 10.1080/09627250608553183 (Devlin & O'Mahony, 2006)
  3. Maglione, G. (2016). Embodied victims: An archaeology of the ‘ideal victim’ of restorative justice. Criminology & Criminal Justice, 17(4), 401-417. doi: 10.1177/1748895816677172 (Maglione, 2016)
  4. Bolitho, J. (2011). Restorative Justice: The Ideals and Realities of Conferencing for Young People. Critical Criminology, 20(1), 61-78. doi: 10.1007/s10612-011-9150-z (Bolitho, 2011)
  6. van Stokkom, B. (2015). Just emotions: rituals of restorative justice. Restorative Justice, 3(2), 303-306. doi: 10.1080/20504721.2015.1069541 (van Stokkom, 2015)
  7. McIvor, G. (2013). Joanna Shapland, Gwen Robinson and Angela Sorsby,Restorative justice in practice: evaluating what works for victims and offenders. Restorative Justice, 1(1), 154-157. doi: 10.5235/20504721.1.1.154
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Using Restorative Justice In The Criminal Justice System. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
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