A ‘Local’ Response to Community Problems? A Critique of Community Justice Panels

Published 18/06/2014
Type Article
Author(s) Kerry Clamp
Corresponding Authors Kerry Clamp, Lecturer in Criminology, School of Social Science & Psychology, University of Western Sydney

Community justice panels have had a long and varied history and are now established at one level or another in most advanced neoliberal states. They involve local members of the community as volunteers in responding to crime and have been lauded for their potential to reduce offending behaviour and provide a more localised, culturally sensitive approach to crime committed by people from those communities. Despite these claims, they have received relatively little attention from scholars working in the areas of community justice and restorative justice. This article seeks to review two different models of community justice panels. The first are those which have been devised in the United States, and subsequently England and Wales, to involve the community in the ‘fight against crime’. The second are those used in Australia and Canada which seek to minimise the use of a formal criminal justice response to offending behaviour by Indigenous peoples and to facilitate a culturally sensitive approach in those cases in which a formal response is unavoidable. Despite their perceived distinct orientation, this article demonstrates that both models have inherent limitations in attempting to ‘localise’ justice