Making Amends: Mediation and Reparation in Criminal Justice

Making Amends: Mediation and Reparation in Criminal Justice

Making Amends: Mediation and Reparation in Criminal Justice

Making Amends: Mediation and Reparation in Criminal Justice

Synopsis

Reparation, or making amends, is an ancient theme in criminal justice. It was revived in both Europe and North America in the 1980s as a practical alternative both to retributivism, and to the various utilitarian projects traditionally associated with retributive justice. Making Amends examines the practice of these schemes in the UK, USA, and Germany, and shows how criminal justice institutions were unresponsive to these attempts to cast justice in a new form. Yet the experiments reflected an abiding dissatisfaction with criminal courts and with the manner in which justice is conceived and expressed withinnbsp; the criminal framework. The authors' conclusions therefore have implications for the workings of the criminal justice system as a whole.

Excerpt

It is rare for a set of ideas to catch on as quickly as did the enthusiasm for victim/offender mediation and reparation in the uk in the mid 1980s; it is rarer still for government to be infected by this enthusiasm, to give pump-priming money, and to contemplate legislation. It seemed, for a while, as if these ideas were to be given a secure institutional form. the position is much less clear today, but this episode (as one may now see it) provides a fascinating subject for academic study since it is not often that one sees ideas emerge, a practice develop, and then support be withdrawn—all within a remarkably short time span. It is now fair to say that, within government circles, mediation and reparation schemes constitute something of a ‘dead’ subject. But this book is not, I hope, simply a research monograph, although I am proud to have been part of a team which employed such an effective and revealing research method. My intention has also been to use these experiments in order to explore questions central to the principles of criminal justice, thereby stimulating more general jurisprudential and penological debate. Also, for those interested in the politics of criminal justice, the book provides a case study of the ease with which vested interests in the penal system marginalise ideas which threaten basic assumptions.

Two people not named on the title page have made a substantial contribution to the book and I wish they could have had greater acknowledgment than is afforded them here. They are David Watson and Jacky Boucherat, my colleagues on the original research projects. David’s theoretical contribution was immensely valuable throughout and some passages are in fact based on earlier drafts of his; his influence pervades the book. Jacky Boucherat was a highly talented researcher, many of her field-notes being an absolute delight; the Exeter and Coventry chapters, in particular, rest on the foundations of her work.

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