The International Journal of Restorative Justice

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Issue Online First, 2022 Expand all abstracts

Restorative justice training for judges and public prosecutors in the European Union: what is on offer and where are the gaps?

Keywords restorative justice, judicial training, judges, public prosecutors
Authors Ana Catarina Pereira, Britt De Craen and Ivo Aertsen
AbstractAuthor's information

    Judges and public prosecutors across Europe continue to be the main source of referral of cases to restorative justice programmes organised in the context of the criminal justice system. As a result, the training of these two groups of legal professionals regarding what restorative justice is and what it can offer to victims, offenders and the community has for many years been identified as a priority for the development of restorative justice in the European Union (EU). However, little information is available about what actually exists in terms of judicial training on restorative justice within the national judicial training institutions responsible for the initial and/or continuous training of judges and/or public prosecutors. Therefore, we developed an online survey on judicial training on restorative justice and invited 38 judicial training institutions operating in the (then) 28 EU Member States to participate in our study. We were able to make relevant observations regarding the reasons for the non-existence of restorative justice training in most of the judicial training institutions studied and identify important elements of the architecture of the restorative justice training offered by the judicial training institution of Czech Republic.

Ana Catarina Pereira
Ana Pereira is a PhD researcher in Criminology at the Leuven Institute of Criminology at KU Leuven, Belgium. She received a PhD grant from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, FCT).

Britt De Craen
Britt De Craen is a master’s student in Criminology at the Leuven Institute of Criminology at KU Leuven, Belgium.

Ivo Aertsen
Ivo Aertsen is Professor Emeritus of the Leuven Institute of Criminology at KU Leuven, Belgium. Corresponding author: Ana Pereira, anacatarina.alvespereira@kuleuven.be.

Restitution and return of cultural property between negotiation and restorative justice: time to bridge the river

Keywords Cultural heritage law, looted cultural objects, return restitution and repatriation, alternative dispute resolution, restorative justice
Authors Arianna Visconti
AbstractAuthor's information

    There is a need for dialogue between two perspectives – the negotiated settlement of legal disputes and the use of restorative justice programmes in post-conflict situations – with respect to the recovery of cultural objects displaced in times of war and/or colonial occupation. Although the application of such perspectives led to the recovery of disputed cultural objects, this has mostly been achieved unwittingly. However, the resolution of restitution claims would benefit from a conscious exchange between experts and practitioners of the two approaches. We will summarise cultural property displacement in its practical complexities, briefly discussing problems related to both ‘historical’ depredations and the current trafficking in cultural objects, with a focus on the current trend towards increased use of criminal law. However, this is a tool that is mostly ineffective in providing a solution for the most heartfelt questions arising from breaking an object’s links to its cultural roots. After carrying out an overview of international conventions currently addressing these issues, discussing why these legal instruments oft cannot actually heal the wounds caused by depredations of cultural property, we will illustrate the need for an approach more focused on the ‘human’ meaning of questions of restitution of objects that are so much more than ‘things’.

Arianna Visconti
Arianna Visconti is Associate Professor of Criminal Law and Law & Arts, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore – Milan (Italy). Corresponding author: Arianna Visconti at arianna.visconti@unicatt.it.

Meetings between victims and offenders suffering from a mental disorder in forensic mental health facilities: a qualitative exploration of their subjective experiences

Keywords Victim-offender meetings, restorative justice, forensic mental health, victimology, perception
Authors Mariëtte van Denderen and Michiel van der Wolf
AbstractAuthor's information

    Most studies about victim-offender meetings have been performed within prison populations, with little reference to offenders diagnosed with mental disorders. In establishing the effects of such meetings, these studies often use quantitative measures. Little is known about meetings between victims and offenders with mental disorders and about the more qualitative subjective experiences of the participants regarding these meetings. In this interview study, we inquired into the subjective experiences of sixteen participants in victim-offender meetings, six of whom are victims and ten offenders of severe crimes, currently residing in forensic mental health facilities. Topics of the interviews included benefits of the meeting and perceptions of each other prior to and after the meeting. Important benefits that participants experienced from meeting each other were reconnecting with family, processing the offence and contributing to each other’s well-being. Such benefits are comparable to those mentioned in studies on meetings with offenders without a mental disorder, challenging the practice that mentally disordered offenders are often excluded from such meetings. Most victims experienced a positive change in perception of the offender owing to the meeting. They perceived the offender as a human being and associated him less exclusively with his offence. Implications for clinical practice are addressed.

Mariëtte van Denderen
M.Y. van Denderen is criminologist and senior researcher at the Forensic Psychiatric Centre Dr. S. van Mesdag, Groningen, the Netherlands.

Michiel van der Wolf
M.J.F. van der Wolf is Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at Leiden University and Associate Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Corresponding author: M.Y. van Denderen at m.van.denderen@fpcvanmesdag.nl. Funding: This work was supported by an international, non-governmental, organization that prefers to stay anonymous (more information is available at request). Acknowledgements: We want to thank the victims, bereaved individuals and offenders who shared their experiences about the meeting. We would also like to thank the social workers of the FPC Dr. S. van Mesdag and FPC the Oostvaardersclinic, among which H. van Splunter, and Perspectief Herstelbemiddeling for their cooperation. We thank F. Fierstra, L. Gunnink, E. de Jong and F. Drijfhout for transcribing the interviews. Disclosure statement: No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.

How can the victim-offender mediation process contribute to a lower risk of reoffending? A synthesis literature review

Keywords restorative justice, victim-offender mediation, recidivism, synthesis review
Authors Jiska Jonas-van Dijk, Sven Zebel, Jacques Claessen e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    Although it has been shown that participation in victim-offender mediation (VOM) can be associated with a lower risk of reoffending, it remains unclear how the VOM process may explain this relationship. Through a synthesis literature review, which included 53 articles, this article provides an overview of mechanisms in three phases of the VOM process that might contribute to a lower risk of reoffending. These are the preliminary phase (before the VOM encounter), the execution phase (VOM encounter) and the outcome phase (after VOM encounter). The findings of the review indicate that although a possible self-selection bias in the preliminary phase may (partly) account for the negative association with recidivism, multiple fundamental conditions and working mechanisms in the VOM process and encounter can help explain a psychological change within the offender and hence a lower recidivism risk. However, the review reveals remaining knowledge gaps regarding the contribution of VOM to reduced reoffending. To fill these gaps, we offer a number of recommendations for future research, such as examining how the fundamental conditions and working mechanisms of VOM interact with each other and produce a psychological change within the offender. This could help to find best practices that maximise the beneficial outcomes of VOM.

Jiska Jonas-van Dijk
Jiska Jonas-van Dijk is a PhD-student of the Psychology Conflict Risk and Safety Department at the Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences Faculty of the University of Twente and at the Department of Criminal Law and Criminology in the Faculty of Law of Maastricht University, the Netherlands.

Sven Zebel
Sven Zebel is Associate Professor of Psychology Conflict Risk and Safety at the Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences Faculty of the University of Twente and Endowed Professor of Mediation at the Faculty of Law of the Vrije Universiteit

Jacques Claessen
Jacques Claessen is Associate Professor of Criminal Law and Endowed Professor of Restorative Justice at the Faculty of Law of Maastricht University, the Netherlands.

Hans Nelen
Hans Nelen is Professor of Criminology at the Department of Criminal Law and Criminology in the Faculty of Law of Maastricht University, the Netherlands. Corresponding author: Jiska Jonas-van Dijk at j.jonas-vandijk@utwente.nl. Funding: This research was funded by a Research Talent Grant (grant number 406.17.555) from the Dutch Research Council (NWO).