"Co-optation” of Restorative Justice is a Serious Concern
Date:  07-30-2014

Community voices often ignored by professionals, claims John Lash
The following was originally posted by Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.

OP-ED: Popularity of Restorative Justice Has Its Pitfalls

By: JOHN LASH | July 18, 2014

The greatest threat to restorative justice (RJ) is co-optation by the current system. As interest grows in the techniques of RJ, educators, police, probation officers, courts and many types of therapists and social workers are trying to bring restorative practices to their fields. This is a good trend, but there are risks.

Widespread adoption can lead to a dilution or misunderstanding of the values that underlie truly restorative systems and groups that haven’t been represented in the process can be marginalized.

In the first case the co-optation is direct. Professionals, long accustomed to addressing the justice needs of their communities, adopt some aspects of a restorative approach while maintaining a punitive system. It may be difficult for them to conceptualize a system that puts the needs of victims (and not the interests of the state) at the center of the process, or that gives true voice to young people who cause harm. Read more.