Young Women Offenders and the Challenge for Restorative Justice

Christine Alder, University of Melbourne

Thus far gender has rarely been addressed in discussions of restorative justice in the juvenile justice area. The omission of reference to gender implies an assumption that the outcomes and the processes will be the same for boys and girls. At this point there is very little research that allows examination of this assumption. In this paper I draw on research on girls' experiences of juvenile justice more generally to suggest that there are issues that need to be acknowledged and addressed if the promises of restorative justice, in particular, group conferences, are to hold true for girls. The principles of some restorative justice models suggest potential benefits for young women in the juvenile justice system. However, before we can feel comfortable about the use of restorative justices practices the questions and issues raised in this paper need to be acknowledged and addressed. Most urgently, he practices of restorative justice need to be evaluated and monitored in regard to their implications for young women.

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Updated 05/20/2006