Ideology and Community: The Communitarian Hi-Jacking of Community Justice

Published: 12/06/2002

This article aims to explore the ways in which the concept of community is utilised within criminal justice. The argument will be made that Amitai Etzioni’s communitarian ideals underpin the current application of the concept at a political and policy development level. Etzioni’s communitarianism offers a vision of community where social harmony is engendered through a careful balance of individual rights and responsibilities. This article will provide a critical analysis of this vision by questioning both its philosophy of community and the application of some of its ideas in the field of community justice. The concern is that an increasingly moralistic invocation of individual responsibilities has hijacked the concept of community and threatens to subvert community justice.

Community Bail or Penal Remand? A Critical Analysis of Recent Policy Developments in Relation to Unconvicted and/or Unsentenced Juveniles

Published: 12/06/2002

This paper presents a line of argument which holds that contemporary youth justice policy formation and practice development is located within a highly-charged political environment. Despite the ‘modern’ emphasis on rationality and evidenced-based approaches, it is further argued that political calculations invariably exercise significantly more influence over youth justice policy, than ‘what works’ priorities and the messages that can be drawn from research and practice. This primary argument is applied and developed by focusing explicitly on bail and remand processes in relation to unconvicted and/or unsentenced juveniles. Underpinned by recently completed research, the analysis illustrates the means by which promising developments in policy and practice have been reversed and abandoned in order to suit the political moment.

Working With Young Adults Sentenced to Life

Published: 12/06/2002

The authors of this article were the keynote speakers at a conference carrying the above title, held at HM YOI Moorland, in October 2000. The purpose of the conference was to concentrate on young adults sentenced life, in their own right, rather than as a sub-group of adult life prisoners. The speakers and conference members together examined, as this article will do, the traumatic backgrounds of some of these young men, the policy gap in addressing their special needs, and the constituents of a groupwork intervention which helps them to own their offending.

Prisoners as Citizens

Published: 12/06/2002

This article considers how the ideas of citizenship, and of the rights and responsibilities which go with it, might be applied to the treatment of prisoners and the management of prisons. Those ideas have different origins and can be applied in different ways and to serve different purposes. They have become politically prominent since the change of government in 1997, especially as a result of the incorporation into domestic law of the European Convention on Human Rights through the Human Rights Act 1998; of the Government's insistence that those rights are linked with responsibilities; of its programme to reduce social exclusion; and of its efforts to promote a sense of common identity among communities which are culturally and religiously diverse.

Within prisons, ideas of citizenship have received some recognition in programmes for resettlement and for work which benefits local communities. But prisoners are often still seen, politically and institutionally, as people who have for the most part forfeited their rights as citizens; and prisons are seen as institutions which are set apart from ordinary society. This article argues that a consistent attempt to treat prisoners as citizens rather than outcasts would not only carry into prisons the values which both the Government and the opposition political parties are seeking to promote in society as a whole, but would also enable the Prison and Probation Services more effectively to achieve the aims of resettlement and rehabilitation to which the Government is also committed. In the process, staff would gain in self-respect and the respect of others, and would find greater satisfaction in their work.

So Who Are the Victims Now?

Published: 13/03/2002

The purpose of this article is to explore the interconnections between different strands of victimological thought, their relationship with the contemporary victims' policy scene and the relevance of this work for community justice. In so doing the argument will be developed that in order to understand contemporary policy concerns it is necessary to situate those concerns within the wider changing relationship between the citizen and the state and the extent to which that changing relationship has resulted in the politicisation of the crime victim. Particular attention will be paid to the re-orientation of the probation service, the introduction of the victim personal statement scheme, and the contemporary use of restorative justice, as policy examples currently concerned with the victim of crime. The conclusion will draw out some of the implications of policy orientations of this kind for the field of community justice.

In or Out?: Some Critical Reflections Upon the Potential for Involving Victims of Youth Crime in Restorative Processes in England and Wales

Published: 13/03/2002

Expanding the use of restorative approaches within the youth justice system has become a key objective of recent government policy and reflects the international growth of restorative justice. Three recent evaluations of the use of restorative practice within the reformed English and Welsh youth justice system established very low levels of victim participation. The main focus of this article is to discuss the findings from these evaluations in relation to these low levels of victim involvement. These findings are then contrasted with international evidence, and the experience of two English restorative justice projects. It is argued that this evidence demonstrates that the recent low levels of victim involvement in England and Wales represent a failure in practice, to date, rather than a general reluctance on the part of victims to become involved in restorative processes.

Community Justice, Risk Management and the Role of Multi-Agency Public Protection Panels

Published: 13/03/2002

This paper discusses recent developments in the ‘risk management’ of known sexual and violent offenders in the community, including the work of Multi-Agency Public Protection Panels (MAPPPs). It considers the extent to which such developments can be understood as one facet of a growing trend towards ‘community justice’ and an extending network of community justice programmes. In doing so it explores the significance of different interpretations of community justice as a concept and a strategy, from idealistic formulations which emphasize social inclusion and positive involvement by local communities, to those which see it as largely risk-focussed and exclusionary, linked to the pervasive concerns about insecurity which have come to characterize late modernity. It is noted that the involvement of local citizens in the social control of sex offenders has so far been limited mainly to vigilantism and campaigns to expel them, and that criminal justice agencies have generally tried to ‘manage’ their risk secretly, avoiding debate or the release of information; however, the ‘populist challenge’ unleashed by the Sarah Payne case cannot now be ignored, and some attempts have recently been made to develop constructive dialogue about the nature and levels of risk and to involve community members in decision-making and even the support of sex offenders. The article draws at various points upon empirical research conducted by a team including the authors (Maguire et al 2001).

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