Making progress in restorative justice: A qualitative study
Jun 22, 2010
from the abstract of a thesis by John R. Bacon:
This is an exploratory study into how restorative justice (RJ) facilitators made progress before and during a RJ conference. It draws specifically on the experiences of Justice Research Consortium (JRC) facilitators who participated in one of three Home Office funded trials between 2001-4, and the only trial to employ a randomized control design based on the RJ conference model. Qualitative data was collected via focus group meetings and individual interviews.
This study reveals how facilitators relied on a wide range of inter-personal characteristics, skills and techniques to secure and manage the participation of victims/offenders and their supporters in and throughout the RJ process. In particular, facilitators had to build rapport with the parties by a process of empathizing while remaining impartial and non-judgmental.
From this data it is suggested that RJ in practice is about personalizing a criminal event which is most effective when it invokes an exchange of emotional responses between the parties which can then have a profound effect on the participants, resulting in changed perspectives and behaviours. It is therefore suggested, that the success of RJ conference encounters is heavily reliant upon the work of the facilitators. The data from this study have implications for their future recruitment, training and supervision.