Restorative justice is an approach to re-establishing the balance between the primary stakeholders of a committed crime in the form of dialogue. This approach aims at healing rather than punishment, including the discussion of the offender’s accountability and respect for all participants. The current restorative justice programs for juvenile offenders include arbitration and mediation programs. The effectiveness of these programs can be questionable for juvenile offenders, but the benefits for the victims can be noticed.
An arbitration program includes a hearing as a form of diversion, taking place in a court-like setting. During the hearing, the juvenile offenders answer the questions of an arbitrator about the crime. In some cases, the process may involve the victim presenting their side. Such a hearing is usually concluded in the agreement about the offender’s obligation to attend counseling or community service work. Another alternative to the formal proceeding is a court meditation program. It usually involves all parties attempting to resolve the conflict with the help of a third-party mediator.
By being an alternative to a traditional juvenile court sentencing, mediation and arbitration focus on the discussion about the crime or wrongdoing. These programs usually result in an agreement regarding the consequences of the actions to be taken by the youth. According to Wilson et al. (2018), these discussions have a positive effect; however, this effect is usually small and insignificant to the juvenile offender. One of the positive results of restorative justice for the youth is a better perception of fairness. Despite that, the meditation and arbitration procedures have a high chance of improving the victims’ attitudes toward the offender, and they are more willing to forgive (Wilson et al., 2018). The outcomes of the programs seem to be more beneficial for the victims.
Due to the fact that the justice system has to accommodate juvenile offenders, the prevention of future offenses and crimes committed by youth has to be as rehabilitative as possible. The juvenile justice system should be orientated on restorative programs for that purpose. However, according to Wilson et al. (2018), the effectiveness of such programs as arbitration and mediation is far from desirable. Despite this fact, the juvenile justice system should continue to strive for a better way to prevent violent tendencies resulting in crimes among the youth. Other programs of restorative justice exist that achieve better effectiveness.
Additionally, the evidence of a better perception of fairness among juvenile offenders and their victims signals the necessity to continue the programs. The existing programs of meditation and arbitration have a positive effect on the victims of juvenile crime, which is also an important element of restorative justice. Due to this, the programs, along with other restorative justice practices, are worth the costs. Not only the current benefits of the programs should be accounted for, but also the possible future developments and their results. Restorative justice programs should be further researched and tested to ensure a better life for the youth.
Such restorative justice programs as arbitration and mediation among juvenile offenders lack the desirable effectiveness, despite the evidence of the improved perception of fairness. Juvenile crime victims were proved to have more beneficial outcomes of participating in these programs. However, due to the current outcomes and the fact that the restorative justice system has other more effective programs, this area of justice agency is worth the costs. To prevent future crimes and improve the lives of both young offenders and their victims, further research and testing of restorative justice programs should be conducted.
Wilson, D. B., Olaghere, A., & Kimbrell, C. S. (2018). Effectiveness of restorative justice principles in juvenile justice: A meta-analysis. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research.