The International Journal of Restorative Justice

Article

Risk, restorative justice and the Crown

a study of the prosecutor and institutionalisation in Canada

Keywords restorative justice, institutionalisation, risk, prosecutor, Canada
Authors Brendyn Johnson
Author's information

Brendyn Johnson
Brendyn Johnson is a PhD candidate at the School of Criminology at the University of Montreal, Canada. Contact author: Brendyn Johnson at brendyn.johnson@umontreal.ca. Acknowledgement: This research is supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
  • Abstract

      In Canada, restorative justice programmes have long been institutionalised in the criminal justice system. In Ontario, specifically, their use in criminal prosecutions is subject to the approval of Crown attorneys (prosecutors) who are motivated in part by risk logics and risk management. Such reliance on state support has been criticised for the ways in which it might subvert the goals of restorative justice. However, neither the functioning of these programmes nor those who refer cases to them have been subject to much empirical study in Canada. Thus, this study asks whether Crown attorneys’ concerns for risk and its management impact their decision to refer cases to restorative justice programmes and with what consequences. Through in-depth interviews with prosecutors in Ontario, I demonstrate how they predicate the use of restorative justice on its ability to reduce the risk of recidivism to the detriment of victims’ needs. The findings suggest that restorative justice becomes a tool for risk management when prosecutors are responsible for case referrals. They also suggest that Crown attorneys bear some responsibility for the dangers of institutionalisation. This work thus contributes to a greater understanding of the functioning of institutionalised restorative justice in Canada.

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