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Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice x Category Article x

    Western Australia is experiencing high rates of recidivism among Aboriginal offenders. This challenge can be partly addressed by delivering culturally relevant programming. Its dearth, however, suggests two questions: what is culturally fit in the context of the prison, and how might such programming be constructed? This article responds to these questions by focusing on one element of culture, ‘values’, that is influential ideas that determine desirable courses of action in a culture. Firstly, a review of the literature and comparative analysis is given to the respective key values of Aboriginal culture and European and Anglo-Australian cultures. It also highlights the importance of repairing Aboriginal values with implications for providing culturally relevant prison programming. Secondly, a report is given on how an in-prison Aboriginal restorative justice programme (AIPRJP) was co-designed by Noongar Elders and prisoners and me, an Anglo-Australian restorativist. Using an ethnographic approach, the project identified a set of Aboriginal values for addressing the harms resulting from historical manifestations of wrongdoing by settler colonialism and contemporary crimes of Aboriginal offenders. Brief commentary is then given to the delivery of the AIPRJP, followed by a summary of findings and recommendations for using culturally relevant programming.


Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson is Adjunct Research Fellow at School of Population and Global Health, The University of Western Australia, Australia. Corresponding author: Jane Anderson at jane.a@westnet.com.au. Acknowledgements: I extend my appreciation to the Noongar Elders and prisoners of the South West of Western Australia who co-designed the AIPRJP. My thanks go to the prison superintendent and staff for supporting the initiative. I am grateful to the peer reviewers for their constructive criticism which has led to substantial improvements to this article.
Article

Performing restorative justice: facilitator experience of delivery of the Sycamore Tree Programme in a forensic mental health unit

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 3 2021
Keywords restorative justice, sycamore tree programme, ethnography, forensic mental health, self-presentation
Authors Joel Harvey and Gerard Drennan
AbstractAuthor's information

    Restorative justice has increasingly been used across the criminal justice system. However, there is limited evidence of its use with service users within forensic mental health settings. This study conducted a focused ethnography in a medium secure unit in the UK to explore the implementation of the Sycamore Tree Programme, a specific restorative justice programme that the Prison Fellowship (PF) facilitates in prisons. This article examines the experience of PF volunteers and National Health Service (NHS) staff who came together to run the programme with the first cohort of eight service users (‘learners’). Focus groups were carried out before and after training with eight facilitators, and six interviews with facilitators were completed after the programme ended. Furthermore, detailed observations were carried over the six-week programme. It was found that the encounter was highly experiential for staff and that the group process generated significant emotion for both the learners and facilitators. A pre-requisite for containing the group’s and the facilitators’ emotions was staff taking a relational and collaborative approach to their work. The findings of this study are discussed within the theoretical framework of ‘the presentation of self in everyday life’ (Goffman, 1959), looking through the lens of the performative self in social relations.


Joel Harvey
Joel Harvey is Lecturer in Forensic Psychology at the Department of Law and Criminology, Royal Holloway University of London, UK and Registered Clinical and Forensic Psychologist.

Gerard Drennan
Gerard Drennan is Lead Psychologist – Forensic and Offender Health Pathway, South London, UK and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. Contact author: joel.harvey@rhul.ac.uk
Article

Restorative justice as empowerment: how to better serve the goals of punitive retribution

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 2 2018
Keywords Restorative justice, retributive punishment, empowerment of victims, restoring dignity and autonomy in survivors of crime
Authors Theo van Willigenburg
AbstractAuthor's information

    Restorative justice practices are applied only to the margins of criminal justice systems. These systems generally punish the wrongdoer in order to give him his ‘just desert’. For restorative justice to be more attractive, we need to understand why punitive retribution is such a powerful motive. If the scales of justice are out of balance because of suffering inflicted (to the offended), why would the infliction of more suffering (to the offender) bring redemption? It is argued that much of the sting of being harmed by an offender derives from the identity implications of the act. Punitive retribution may satisfy short-lasting vindictive desires, but its main symbolic function is to restore the victim’s self-image and dignity by humiliating the perpetrator. This is done in a notoriously indirect and ineffective way, though. It is argued that restorative justice can do much better, if it is understood in terms of empowering the offended. This involves procedures that restore the victim’s autonomy, prestige and self-confidence. Apart from bringing the offended back into the driver’s seat of the process, restorative justice empowers the survivors of crime by helping them face offenders, face themselves and face their community. Restorative justice is not only much more rewarding than punitive retribution, it also provides better ways of communicating personal and public disapproval of crime.


Theo van Willigenburg
Theo van Willigenburg is resident research fellow at VU University Amsterdam and director of the Kant Academy, Utrecht (The Netherlands). Contact author: vanwilligenburg@kantacademy.nl.
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