Working Under the Aegis of the Criminal Justice System: Implications for Restorative Justice Practice

Published 13/12/2006
Type Article
Author(s) Dr Margarita Zernova
Corresponding Authors Dr Margarita Zernova, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Institute of Applied Ethics, University of Hull

On the basis of empirical findings resulting from a study of one family group conferencing project this article will critically examine the implications of restorative justice operating in the shadow of the criminal justice system. It will discuss four ways of dependence of restorative practice on the criminal justice system: funding, referrals, legal framework and the system-oriented practitioners. The article will argue that the reliance of restorative practice on the criminal justice system may cause numerous problems. It may result in restorative justice being made to serve the system’s objectives and restorative ideals being diluted and distorted. It may produce a situation where restorative justice adopts the value framework of the system and avoids ethical discussions beyond that framework. It may lead to individualising problems and neutralising conflicts with social-structural roots. It may also enable the state to exercise control over troublesome individuals in an invisible fashion. A suggestion will be made about how these dangers could be avoided.