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Community Justice and a Vision of Collective Efficacy: The Case of Restorative Conferencing

NCJ Number
Date Published
73 pages
This chapter examines restorative conferencing as a case study in the involvement of crime victims, offenders, and other citizens as active participants in a non-adversarial sanctioning response to youth crime, generally focused on repairing harm.
The chapter links conferencing both to a broader vision of the citizen and community role in a more effective response to juvenile crime and to a larger effort to build community "collective efficacy." Although the macro focus on linking the conferencing agenda to social justice issues is an important agenda, the author emphasizes micro and mid-range interventions in considering the potential of restorative conferencing for community building. Specifically, he explores the meaning and implications of these new approaches for accomplishing two primary objectives: changing the nature and effectiveness of the response to crime through meaningful citizen involvement in sanctioning processes that emphasize intervention outcomes beyond punishment and treatment of the offender; and building community capacity or collective efficacy to sustain and expand these responses. The first objective involves an examination of theories in use that are relevant to the impact of the participation of nonprofessionals and community groups on sanctioning outcomes. The second objective requires an examination of the rationale for and challenges to building collective efficacy in a historical period in which it appears to many observers that social control has become exclusively a state rather than a community function. Challenges to implementing various conferencing models, especially in the current juvenile justice context, are presented in this chapter, along with a general strategy for moving forward within a vision that explicitly links these microconflict resolution models to broader efforts to build community capacity and to expand the role of citizens in the justice process. 168 references

Date Published: January 1, 2000