Understanding Victims and Restorative Justice

Understanding Victims and Restorative Justice

Understanding Victims and Restorative Justice

Understanding Victims and Restorative Justice

Synopsis

Two of the principal and most influential developments within criminal justice policy - taking in a variety of common law jurisdictions during the past thirty years - have been the rise of the 'victim movement' and the emergence of a distinctive set of practices that have become associated with the term 'restorative justice'. Understanding Victims and Restorative Justice examines the origins of and the relationship between these two sets of developments, and seeks to assess their strengths and weaknesses in meeting the needs of victims as part of the overall response to crime. Written in a lively and accessible style this book is of benefit to students from a range of disciplines including criminology, sociology and the law. Also helpful to professionals, practitioners and policymakers working in voluntary agencies within the criminal justice system.

Excerpt

James Dignan's book is the twelfth in the successful Crime and Justice series published by Open University Press. The series is now established as a key resource in universities teaching criminology or criminal justice, especially in the UK but increasingly also overseas. The aim from the outset has been to give undergraduates and graduates both a solid grounding in the relevant area and a taste to explore it further. Although aimed primarily at students new to the field, and written as far as possible in plain language, the books are not oversimplified. On the contrary, the authors set out to 'stretch' readers and to encourage them to approach criminological knowledge and theory in a critical and questioning frame of mind.

James Dignan is a well-known and experienced writer in the criminal justice field, who combines expert knowledge with the ability to put over complex ideas in accessible language and a lively style. His book draws together in an original way ideas and arguments from two areas of criminology and criminal justice which have grown enormously in importance in recent years. The idea of basing responses to crime around the principle of 'restorative justice' has attracted huge levels of interest among criminologists and policy-makers around the world, especially in the wake of innovative contributions on the topic by the influential Australian writer, John Braithwaite. Dignan explores the key theoretical ideas behind restorative justice, and presents a wide range of empirical data illustrating how it has been used in practice, how it is perceived by victims and offenders, and the extent to which it is 'effective' in reducing reconviction (though this is not necessarily its main purpose). The second key set of ideas he explores is that arising from the somewhat older (but still growing) literature on 'victimology', the broad term often used to describe the study of victims, and of social and criminal justice responses to victimization. This includes questions about the relationships between victims and offenders, about the 'welfare' of victims (for example, what special services – if any – should they receive, over and above those open to victims . . .

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