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The past few decades have seen the rise of two very different alternatives to the traditional criminal justice system: private police and restorative justice programs. These two approaches arise out of very different causes - the first is an effort by private citizens to obtain greater and more responsive crime control, and the second is a movement aimed at addressing the psychological needs of victims and perpetrators of crimes. Each of these approaches represents a revolutionary paradigm shift as to how criminal justice is administered in this country - and yet each of these movements has been limited in its impact on the current criminal justice system. The privatization movement has been restricted to the law enforcement stage of the criminal justice system, while the restorative justice movement has been dependent upon state support. The article's thesis is that it is only a matter of time before these two movements combine, thereby creating a viable private alternative to the public criminal justice system.
Several news items today remind us that it is important to be realistic about human nature when we design our restorative city. People sometimes do things that are wrong, even those responsible for administering restorative aspects of the justice system.
Clairmont expresses concern that, without increased support from the government, the community agencies that administer the program may not be able to keep up. Case workers will require more hours to prepare offenders and victims for meetings. And offenders may need more support to help them complete their commitments to victims and to stay out of trouble. "We can't do restorative justice on the cheap if it's going to do significant cases," he says. "If you're starting to get repeat offenders, kids who are assaulting others on a regular basis, kids who have a lot of problems, you're going to need to have some resources."
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