Restoring Justice for Juveniles: A Critical Analysis of the E.P.P.I.C. Initiative

Bruce Arrigo, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

In a recent article, Arrigo and Schehr (1998) argue that the integration of psychoanalytic semiotics and chaos theory provide fertile ground for more humanely and empathically re-configuring victim offender mediation (VOM) as applied to adolescent offenders than present practices suggest. In this paper, the interpretive tools of psychoanalytic semiotics and chaos theory are applied to the E.P.P.I.C. (Enforcement, Prosecution, Prevention, Intervention, and Counseling) initiative in Fresno, CA. At issue is how VOM discourse and the language of restoration were constituted such that they uniquely attended to the voice of various offenders, victims, and the community of which both were a part. This paper concludes by re-thinking the aims of restoration and reconciliation in the context of victim offender mediation, mindful of how language powerfully and meaningfully shapes action in VOM sessions, potentially promoting transformative and empowering experiences for all parties concerned.

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Updated 05/20/2006