The International Journal of Restorative Justice


Exploring exemplarity in in-prison restorative rehabilitation to recover normativity

Keywords exemplarity, prison, rehabilitation programming, peer support, problematic drug abuse
Authors Jane Anderson
Author's information

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson is Adjunct Research Fellow at the School of Population and Global Health, The University of Western Australia, Australia. Acknowledgements: My thanks go to the prison superintendent and staff for supporting the restorative rehabilitation initiative. I am grateful to the peer reviewers for their constructive criticism which has led to substantial improvements to this article. Corresponding author: Jane Anderson at
  • Abstract

      The ambiguous status of a prisoner as citizen has implications for rehabilitation and reintegration. Using Mazzucato’s (2017) philosophical work on the responsive-restorative model of justice and the potential of exemplarity as a guiding theory, this article explores how prisoners can be incentivised to become fully citizens. Three concepts for action have been identified in Mazzucato’s work: the virtuous zone, rules of conduct and exemplarity. These actions are reviewed and used to compare in-prison retributive practices and those exercised in a restorative rehabilitation programme which brings together prisoners and surrogate crime victims. The programme was designed in response to high rates of crime and incarceration associated with drug possession and supply in a regional city in Australia. The article concludes with a summary and findings that show how restorative responses can challenge the consequences of prison segregation, recover agency directed to voluntary compliance and exemplify normative conduct. It also demonstrates that restorative rehabilitation can have a residual effect. Some prisoners on release connected with a peer support service, the same organisation from which surrogate victims were drawn for the programme. Restorative rehabilitation is thus shown to have potential for giving ongoing support to prisoners in their transition to full citizenship.

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