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Communities, Victims, Offenders, and Relationships: Toward a Restorative Approach to Rehabilitation in Juvenile Justice

NCJ Number
Community Corrections Report on Law and Corrections Practice Volume: 6 Issue: 1 Dated: November/December 1998 Pages: 1-14
G Bazemore
Date Published
7 pages
Juvenile rehabilitation under the concepts of restorative justice requires that communities, victims, and offenders interact with one another within structures that enable each to provide input and engage in actions that enhance the lives of the others.
Crime harms victims, offenders, and their families, and in essence damages the social fabric and peace of communities. Citizens, crime victims, and offenders are caught up in a cycle in which crime is both a cause and a result of breakdowns in interpersonal and community relationships. One of the most basic themes in restorative justice is the need to strengthen or rebuild connections and community. At the individual level, if crime is viewed as the result of weak bonds, a restorative approach to rehabilitation must focus on strengthening the offender's bonds to conventional adults and peers, enhancing youth-adult relationships, and changing the offender's view of law-abiding citizens and the community. At the community level, intervention to strengthen bonds must focus on changing citizens' views of offenders and on increasing the willingness and capacity of community groups to take responsibility for the integration and reintegration of at-risk and delinquent youth, as well as for participating in informal sanctioning, dispute resolution, and social control. Because juvenile justice interventions have seldom been informed by meaningful citizen input, most ignore the myriad justice needs of communities that have little or nothing to do with whether and how offenders are punished or treated. This article discusses the connecting of justice needs and functions; of primary stakeholders in the response to youth crime; and of young offenders, adults, and socializing institutions. 2 tables and 14 references