Dispute Resolution Education, Training, and Critical Issues for Criminal Justice Professionals
MARIA R. VOLPE
Throughout American society, increasing attention is being given to alternative means of dispute resolution (ADR), including negotiation, conciliation, mediation, fact-finding, arbitration, minitrial, rent-a-judge, and ombudsmen ( Marks, et al., 1984; Goldberg, et al., 1985; Salem, 1985; McKay, 1985). These developments coincide with the widespread concern about the nature of adversarial handling of a wide range of matters in a variety of contexts. In the case of criminal matters, a small sampling of some of the innovative uses of ADR approaches includes varied state legislation that has been passed introducing new dispute resolution processes, particularly mediation in community situations ( ABA, 1990b); hundreds of dispute resolution programs that have been started to process diverse criminal and civil disputes that might otherwise be sent to the courts ( ABA, 1990a); other community-based dispute resolution programs that have been established to provide victim/offender mediation at different stages of the criminal justice process, including pretrial diversion, between conviction and adjudication, between sentencing and disposition, or after sentencing ( Umbreit, 1986); and diverse dispute resolution coursework and programs in educational institutions, particularly law schools ( Crohn, 1985; Volpe, 1985; Sander, 1984).
Of what significance are these developments to criminal justice professionals, particularly with respect to their education and training in dispute resolution? Any changes in the processing of disputes will have a considerable impact on professionals working in the criminal justice system, including police, prosecuting and defense attorneys, judges, and probation, parole, and correction officers. Of all of the ADR processes gaining national attention, mediation, perhaps, poses the most innovative and challenging set of problems for criminal justice professionals.