“Transforming Justice: challenges for restorative justice in an era of punishment-based corrections” is an article written by Anne-Marie McAlinden in the year 2011 (McAlinden, 2011). The article is a critical analysis of ranges of social and structural characteristics of the present world that are believed to have stopped the widespread application of the restorative policy and at the same time prevented them from achieving their overall transformational capabilities as one of the options forms of justice. Based on the author of the article, the identified features are accredited to the castigatory punitive traditions featured by the policy making founded on the punitive concept, risk governance and the management of the agenda of the criminal justice in addition to the pervasive restorative program established by the Federal government.
Main Points of the Article
Restorative justice is considered as a paradigm shift in the criminal law, where it does not view a crime as the violation of legal categories which merits punishment but as a form of harm to people and relationships. Restorative justice has further been established to go beyond the state justice where it entails the determination of what might have happened in its deliberation process and at the same time decide a suitable remedy (McAlinden, 2011). Further, justice, in this case, is entirely founded in what can be considered as a comprehensive solution which seems to enhance repair and promote reconciliation between the affected groups such as the community, the victim and even the offender. The following are the primary argument from the article:
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Youth justice as the third way:
The White Paper No More Excuses (Home Office, 1997) came up with a proposal to introduce restorative measures within the youth justice system of England and Wales through ranges of legal reforms. It was specifically meant to address the needs of the first-time juvenile criminals. The 1998 Act further substituted the police caution for the young criminals with both the warning and reprimands where reprimand was meant for the minors who had engaged in an offence for the first time while warning for juvenile offenders who had committed a serious crime and had previously been reprimanded (McAlinden, 2011). Before being warned, the minor offenders will have to be transferred to the state’s Youth Offending Team which entails legislatures from the probations, police officers, social workers and the education department. The same Act further introduced the reparation order such as the non-custodial meant for adolescence in addition to the action plan order that functioned as a form a restorative strategy in the community. The referrals are further based on the restorative principles to promote offender’s accountability and responsibility of their behaviour, reintegration of criminals and restoration to the victims.
Sexual offending: from retribution to reinstatement:
Sexual offenders were often targeted and overly punitive with various sentencing interventions. The Act of 1997 had brought in a mandatory life prison term for the second account of sexual offence and violent behaviour. For many years, there have been various Acts that have been adopted with varying harsh punishment (McAlinden, 2011). However, the highly punitive regulatory framework on the sexual offenders has been shown to be juxtaposed through the introduction of the restorative circle of accountability and support. It has seen many serious sexual criminals re-enter the society after being released from prison. It was made possible with the same restorative foundation of incorporating the offenders in a perspective of a unified communicative humanity and at the same provide an assurance measure to the society and the victims that the offenders are well-managed and corrected in the most efficient way to ensure that they change and become better persons.
The transfer of zero-tolerance policy
Within the present political environment throughout Wales and England, there has been a lot of force for the major parties to be hard on crimes while avoiding any signs that might portray them as advocating for flexible options. There has been a spread of the retributive policies that originated from US (McAlinden, 2011). The trend has been shown to have shaped the background for punitive policies creation and further attempt to bring to an end the development of the restorative system which is aimed at curing the harm that had been caused through criminal actions rather instead of focusing entirely on a redistributive penalty. It has shown how restorative processes and practices founded on the model of victim–offender mediation and conferencing can have a positive impact regarding reducing the overall criminal behaviour, and its frequency in the society especially as far as the juvenile delinquents are concerned.
The main reason restorative justice has successfully stayed at the margin of justice intervention is that it is connected to the desirable quality of its origin and the management of the judicial system by the Federal government. The following are the primary recommendation made from the article:
Independence of restorative justice:
Restorative justice must ensure to remain independent and avoid any shadow of the retributive justice which will ensure that it emerges as an effective alternative response to the local crime problem.
Change the justice system from within:
Improving the judiciary from within is important. It would result in the establishment of the maximalist version of the restorative justice. It should be applied as a typical reaction to the wider range of criminal behaviours.
Effective risk management does not require punitiveness:
It has to be explicitly acknowledged by the individuals concerned that an adequate risk management rarely demands serious and severe punishments (McAlinden, 2011). Evaluation of programs founded on restorative philosophy especially those revolving around juvenile criminals has established that it is suitable when it comes to enhancing the liability and reducing the risk of re-offending.
The article has critically focused on the effectiveness of the restorative program to counter criminal behaviour and reoffending. It is clear that when effectively adopted and implement the restorative justice. The restorative process is therefore highly essential especially in serious offences such as sexual offending. Based on the argument by the author, it is clear that restorative justice is the way to go in the contemporary world since it would substantially transform the society by addressing the criminal behaviours that concern the local communities such as sexual crime and youth offending.
McAlinden, A. M. (2011). ‘Transforming justice’: challenges for restorative justice in an era of punishment-based corrections. Contemporary Justice Review , 14 (4), 383- 406.