Infusing Conventional Sentencing With Restorative Justice: Police and Courts in England

Heather Strang, Australian National University
Nova Inkpen, Australian National University
Sarah Bennett, University of Pennsylvania
Dorothy Newbury-Birch, Australian National University

The infusion of conventional sentencing with restorative justice practices could substantially improve justice for victims and reduce repeat offending rates. The question of how and where in the system to offer opportunities for restorative practices raises complex issues of policy implementation. Empirical analysis of this question in English courts reveals the extent to which conventional justice discards most arrests and prosecutions. The prospects for "mainstreaming" restorative justice may therefore depend upon the possibility that more criminal defendants might plead guilty if given the opportunity to participate in restorative justice. Whether legislative and other initiatives would be justified in order to facilitate that opportunity may depend on the empirically demonstrated success of restorative justice in reducing crime and helping victims. But testing the effectiveness of restorative justice requires the development of provisional systems allowing offenders and victims to volunteer to enter randomized controlled trials. This paper describes the development of such systems in England to test the effects of adding restorative justice to the sentencing process.

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Updated 05/20/2006