Restorative Justice is a system centred on reparative aspects rather than only punitive ones. Indeed, the crime should be fixed, not just punished. It has become progressively more popular over the years and its apparition can be explained from the failures of the traditional models of criminal justice. The actual criminal justice system has more than proved the problems it raises and its inefficiency in a number of matters: “We have never resolved the equation of punishment and retribution on one side and reformation on the other. I seriously doubt we ever will” . Therefore a balance between a rehabilitating system and a punitive system need to be struck, a system which would have both fairness in punishment and effectiveness in stopping reoffending.
Restorative Justice as a whole in a very large subject, so we are going to critically analyse it throughout one of its restorative practice: victim-offender mediation. Because, it focuses on both the victim and the offender and actually implies an interaction between both parties, analysing victim-offender mediation is the best way to assess the impact of restorative justice as a whole.
Victim-offender mediation emanated from Canada, in Ontario precisely where in the early 1970s, two young offenders who committed vandalism were asked to meet the victims their crime had affected . Following the meetings, the judge decided that the two offenders should pay restitution to those victims. The justification for victim-offender mediation was therefore initially that it would benefit both the victim and the offender, it is based on the value of reconciliation that is lacking in the traditional system and it was brought by the way of probation. Mediation can be seen as a progress from the conventional criminal justice system because if gives the offender and the victim a chance to express themselves . Its aim is to “make peace” and resolve the conflict. We must not forget that a crime is a conflict between two parties and not just a breach of the law. It allows victim and offender to participate in the judicial process in order to really deal with the crime and not just defer it to the state using a punitive system . Here, the crime is best dealt with because it is discussed and the people become more important than the punishment.
Victim-offender mediation is a meeting between the victim and the offender where a mediator intervene in order to facilitate the procedure and give both parties a safe environment for them to talk about the crime, the impact it has had on them, the reasons why it happened and finally, discuss ways to “make it right”. The role of the mediator is very important, he is professionally trained. Given the context, the meeting can be difficult, especially the dialogue between the two parties, so the mediator’s role is to make things easier, ask the right questions which will help them understand the impact and the reasons of the crime, understand each other. He will also have to be...