Piecing the Puzzle: Restorative Justice with Children and Young Offenders in Scandinavia, an Interview Study with Professionals
Sammanfattning: The modern roots of restorative justice in Scandinavia go back to the emergence of the mediationmovement in Norway in the mid 1970s (Miers, 2001), a process that reached Sweden in the late 1980s(Wahlin, 2005). Victim Offender Mediation (VOM) in Sweden, and Youth Punishment (YP) inNorway, are some of the processes based on the primary components of restorative justice. This meansthat emphasis is on addressing the consequences of the offense through the involvement of those whohave a stake in the specific offense (Marshall, 1999; Zehr, 2015).The aim of this study was to explore and gain knowledge about professionals’ perspectives on theelements and conditions that enable restorative justice to be implemented with children and youngoffenders in Scandinavia. Through the perspective of professionals who have worked with VOM andYP, this study is aimed at exploring the key pieces that make possible to carry out these restorativeprocesses (RP). For this purpose, qualitative, semi-structured and individual interviews were conductedwith six professionals with practical experience from working with VOM and YP with children andyoung offenders in Sweden and Norway. Thematic analysis, an interpretative orientation and aphenomenological approach guided the analysis of the empirical data.The findings led to the identification of four key elements that facilitates the implementation ofrestorative justice with children and young offenders in Scandinavia: the awareness of theory whichconcern the command of theoretical concepts, legal and practical knowledge that the professionals haveon restorative justice; the process conditions that professionals identified as requirements to be metduring the practice in order to establish favorable conditions for the development of the process; thestakeholders’ wills made up of socio-participatory elements that are considered by professionals asnecessary for the implementation of restorative justice; and the Scandinavian opportunity characterizedby the exceptional community will, lenient justice systems and a more humanitarian criminal policythat provides to the region with ideal socio-political conditions to implement restorative practices.Professionals, offenders, victims, and support networks are interdependent through these key piecesthat make up the Scandinavian puzzle.The study concludes with some recommendations and practical implications for offenders, victims, andprofessionals. It is necessary to expand the research within the social work field in order to integratestakeholders’ perspectives and find strategies that increase their willingness to participate in theprocesses. Future studies should address the possibility for offenders and victims to further guaranteeand enhance their access to RP regardless of the will of the direct counterpart. Further exploring theexperiences of social workers engaged in restorative justice may bring a complementary perspective tothe existing body of literature coming from social disciplines such as criminology and the legal field.
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