Restorative Youth Justice, Civil Society and the State

Peter Kiatipis, York University

This paper examines the relationship between the state and civil society in restorative youth justice. More specifically, the influence of both neo-liberal and neo-conservative political rationalities on a recently implemented restorative youth justice program in Ontario, Canada is examined. Such a program exhibits several characteristics of a neo-liberal style of governance, specifically a distancing of the state and mobilization of individuals, families and communities in crime control, an increased emphasis on the victim and community as stakeholders in crime control, and a view of the offender as responsible to both the victim and his / her community. Based on observations and interviews with key participants in this program, which operates as an alternative to the formal court system, this paper addresses the following questions. How does such a program figure in the crime control repertoire of a Conservative Ontario government with a strong law and order mandate to get tough on crime and criminals? How does such a program that relies on a strong sense of community function in a densely populated, urban and multicultural context? Does such a program exhibit the principles of restorative justice?

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Updated 05/20/2006