Restorative Justice: A New Mission for Probation

Thomas Roscoe, Westfield State College
Craig Rivera, Niagara University'Department of Criminal

This paper will examine the utility of placing probation's community protection mission within a restorative justice framework. Using data from the New York State Probation Outcomes Project, which surveyed directors, supervisors, and line officers in 58 New York counties, we will first examine the extent to which community protection is the primary goal of probation. Following this, the means by which probation attempts to achieve community protection will be investigated. It is hypothesized that not only is community protection clearly the primary goal of probation, but that offender accountability is the most favored route towards achieving this end. It is further hypothesized that offender accountability, as currently conceived, has a distinct focus on the individual, and does not involve the community. However, it will be argued restorative justice provides a moral and philosophical framework for offender accountability that involves both the individual and the community. It allows for a focus on restoration of offenders, victims, and the broader community, including reintegration of offenders into the community, within broader parameters of community safety. As a result, it will be argued that relying on restorative justice ideals would enable probation to redirect its focus to include both the offender and the community, while not abandoning what is currently perceived as its primary mission of community protection.

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Updated 05/20/2006