Facilitators' Perspectives on the Place of Offenders in Restorative Justice: a Grounded Theory Approach
McCloskey, Jessica M.
This study sought to explore and develop a preliminary, yet substantive understanding of the ways in which the offender’s position within a Restorative Justice process is influenced and impacted by the wider system around them. In an RJ conference, a facilitator conducts a structured meeting between offenders, victims, and both supporters, to allow them to understand the consequences of an offence and decide how best to repair the harm. Little research has so far investigated the experience of getting to RJ conferences for offenders or considers how other participants may be positioning them within the wider system. The current study comprises fourteen semi-structured interviews with facilitators, managers, and offenders about their experiences with RJ conferences. Data was analysed using Constructivist Grounded Theory (Charmaz, 2014). A model was constructed which described the funnelling process of an offender moving towards or being excluded from attending a conference. Whether an offender made it to conference appeared to be most affected by an over-arching philosophy of victim-focus, the focus of the RJ system, the facilitators beliefs, the offenders’ motivations and relative powerlessness, and the victims’ motivations and perceived need for protection. Repairing harm is not easy in postmodern industrialized Western societies, even with the use of programmes designed to facilitate this. The findings of this study reveal just some of the difficulties with bringing in concepts of repair to a criminal justice system and a culture which is not necessarily used to focusing on community and restoration.
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