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Restorative Justice as Outlined in the Crime and Disorder Act (1998) Is Said to Engage and Benefit Both Victims and offenders Through the Justice Process

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Applied Criminal Justice Policy

Restorative Justice as outlined in the Crime and Disorder Act (1998) is said to engage and benefit both victims and offenders through the justice process. Critically discuss the impact of Restorative Justice as implemented under the act.

The utility of punishment is seen as a justified measure for some observers, advocating that, sentencing is a measure taken to protect the public, reduce offending patters and so on. The concept, utilitarianism looks towards the end result to establish justification. In contrast, punishment can be seen as 'an expression of sentiments' designed in order to tone down any feelings of loss, 'or functioning as an expression of some collective revulsion. Justice for other's, should form a retributive reaction to the offence seeing rationalising benefits for the offender by means of social reintegration or rehabilitation. Furthermore, some critics of penalty emphasise the prospects of reintegrative potential, for example, restorative practice towards the community and a victim (Miers 2001:3).

Most criminal justice processes derived from academic theory however, restorative justice was developed 'by practitioners frustrated with conventional criminal justice practice' (Johnstone 2003a cited in Maguire, Morgan and Reiner 2007:482). In addition, restorative justice was inspired by 'indigenous practices' for example Maori forms of justice and punishment which inspired family group conferencing, originating from New Zealand, North America and Australia (Newburn 2007:744). The aim of these meetings is to encourage responsibility and to make amends.

Moreover, defining restorative justice is highly problematic as there are many misconceptions, however, the most commonly used definition is that 'restorative justice is a process whereby parties with a stake in a particular offence come together to resolve collectively how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future' (Marshall 1996 cited in Newburn 2007:747).

Furthermore, restorative justice is often thought of by means of compensation, victim and offender mediation and community service. According to Morris and Gelsthorp (2000:282) restorative Justice is more concerned by a certain set of values with underpin and guide process and their values and therefore which should override competing values. This theoretical base is influenced by what is known as abolitionism but also contains some conflicting perspectives which range from, critical criminology, labelling theory to neo-conservatism and communitarianism.

In addition, abolitionists advocate that crime is not the object but rather the product of 'crime control philosophies and institutions'. Also claiming that conflicts and social problems arise in everyday life and therefore should by no means, be handed to specialists and professionals who claim to put forward solutions. The main tenet then of abolitionist critique towards traditional and formal criminal justice processes, is about the stigmatising consequences that shaming, retributive punishment and the fact that contemporary practices, for example incarceration does not work (McLaughlin and Muncie 2001: 282-283).

The Australian criminologist John Braithwaite (1989) emphasised how important the concept shaming is in relation to social control. There are two types of shaming to be considered, disintegrative shaming has the ability to outcast individuals from society, in contrast, reintegrative shaming works in the opposite direction to promote acceptance and re-integrate a person back into the community. The latter, concentrating more on the offence in question, rather than the offender. Reintegrative shaming allows society to express disapproval of the offence by bringing together, the offender, the victim and their associates together as a group. Therefore, the aim of restorative justice is to accept the offender back into the social fold and to prevent further offending (McLaughlin and Muncie (2001:285).

Moreover, restorative justice was introduced in the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act by Mr Jack Straw, who was Home Secretary at the time, who also recognised the 'shambolic state' the Youth Justice Service was in. He goes on to assert ' confronting young offenders with the consequences of their actions, for themselves and their family, their victims and the community and helping them to develop a sense of personal responsibility', was one of the Youth Justice Boards critical objectives (Ministry of Justice 2008).

In addition, restorative justice has had a huge impact on criminal justice processes. New warnings were introduced under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, replacing police



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