The International Journal of Restorative Justice

About this journal  

Subscribe to the email alerts for this journal here to receive notifications when a new issue is at your disposal.

Issue Online First, 2024 Expand all abstracts

The working mechanisms of the victim-offender mediation process: how might participation explain psychological outcomes in offenders?

Keywords victim-offender mediation, offenders, psychological impact, working mechanisms, restorative justice
Authors Jiska Jonas-van Dijk, Sven Zebel, Jacques Claessen e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    Previous research shows that participation in victim-offender mediation (VOM) predicts psychological outcomes in offenders – such as increased responsibility-taking and victim empathy. However, little is known about elements that might contribute to these outcomes. We hypothesised that adhering to three fundamental conditions of VOM (perceived voluntary participation, preparation, professional competencies of mediators) and three working mechanisms (learning opportunity, humanising impact, a positive and constructive atmosphere and interaction with victims) would relate positively to the occurrence of these outcomes. In addition, we expected the fundamental conditions to either moderate the association between the working mechanisms and the psychological outcomes or to directly predict the presence of the working mechanisms. To examine this, we used quantitative (n = 55) and qualitative data (n = 9) of offenders and mediators, respectively, who participated in VOM. Results offered partial support for the hypotheses. Three groups of working mechanisms of the VOM process were related to psychological outcome variables: the perceived degree of a positive and constructive atmosphere and interaction with victims, humanising impact, and offering a learning process. The prevalence of the fundamental conditions, preparation and mediators’ professional competencies correlated positively with multiple working mechanisms; the perceived voluntary participation showed expected and unexpected associations with working mechanisms.

Jiska Jonas-van Dijk
Jiska Jonas-van Dijk, Assistant Professor of the Psychology Conflict Risk and Safety department at the Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences Faculty of the University of Twente University, Netherlands.

Sven Zebel
Sven Zebel, 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 Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Jacques Claessen
Jacques Claessen, 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, 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, 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).

Restorative justice, refugees and criminal harm in places of asylum

Keywords refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, restorative justice
Authors Steve Kirkwood
AbstractAuthor's information

    People who have had to flee their homes and seek asylum are often vulnerable and experience harm and trauma. Restorative justice offers a way of addressing the criminal harm that people of a refugee background may experience in places of asylum, and yet there is very little literature or visible practice on this topic. This article presents an exploratory study to address this issue, reviewing existing literature and presenting an analysis of interviews with restorative justice practitioners, representatives from organisations supporting refugees and asylum seekers, and people of a refugee background. Findings suggest restorative justice is a potentially beneficial response to address harms experienced by people of a refugee background, as it can be responsive to trauma, facilitate understanding and connection and address racism and antagonism. Barriers and challenges for restorative justice in this context include language, communication, interpretation, mistrust, insecure immigration status, the impact of trauma, and access to basic resources. Cultural difference ought to be taken into consideration, but it was not considered to be a barrier to engagement in restorative justice. The potential for restorative justice to address the structural issues that impact on people of a refugee background requires further exploration.

Steve Kirkwood
Steve Kirkwood, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, The University of Edinburgh, UK. Corresponding author: s.kirkwood@ed.ac.uk. Acknowledgments: this research was supported by funding from the Leverhulme Trust (RF-2022-366). I would like to thank all of those who supported me with this research, participated in interviews, and suggested potential contacts. I presented this work at the European Society of Criminology Annual Conference in Florence, Italy, September 2023, and would like to thank the audience members for their helpful responses. Thanks also to Lucy Jaffe and the anonymous peer reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier version of this article.