Restorative Justice and Criminal Justice Project
This project focuses how principles of restorative justice can be used within criminal justice to deliver a fairer and more accountable system of justice for society. The project has developed, as in recent years there has been a dramatic growth in alternative responses to criminal offending. In particular, the use of mediation and restorative approaches have emerged as important innovations and have come to exert an increasingly strong influence in criminal justice systems across many different jurisdictions. There has also been a trend to incorporate restorative principles into transitional justice and post-conflict reconstruction. The growing influence of mediation and restorative approaches has developed as policymakers have become more concerned about the capacity of the traditional criminal system to deliver participatory processes and fair outcomes that are capable of benefiting victims, offenders and society at large. This concern has been caused in part by the structure and process inherent to the orthodox criminal justice system, whereby crime has essentially been conceptualised as the violation of the state's law by an individual. As such, most western criminal justice systems, particularly during the trial phase, tend to be bipartisan in nature, and largely reflect the normative duality of the contest between the state and the offender (Zehr 1990; Fattah, 2004; Doak, 2008). By contrast, mediation and restorative justice does not view crime through such a narrow lens, but seeks to resolve conflicts by addressing the wider needs of victims, offenders and even the broader community.
Our research project seeks to address these broad questions and the opportunities that restorative processes and mediation offer through a number of themed conferences and research collaborations, which encourage debate, research and publications.