Juvenile justice systems in Europe are coming to terms with the need for greater involvement of the victims of juvenile crime. This reflects a recognition of:
a) the importance of giving a voice to all of the parties involved when a criminal act takes place;
b) the importance of the victim-offender relationship in constructing social cohesion after the fact;
c) the acknowledgement of the social dimension of justice, which goes beyond the strictly judicial and penal aspects of prosecution and punishment that fall under the jurisdiction of legal institutions.
Effectively addressing juvenile delinquency requires a broader perspective that recognizes the role of both social institutions and individual actors -most notably the victim- in establishing a process that does not limit itself to seeing the juvenile within an isolated bubble, but considers the broader context within which the minor resides. Including victims in the juvenile justice process, however, raises ethical considerations; practices and procedures that seek to integrate victims need to meet ethical standards that ensure both the protection of the victim and of the minor. Restorative justice practices represent an ideal starting point for further victim integration and protection within a broader attempt to support social cohesion and crime prevention.
Project Focus: The definition of new procedures to increase the inclusion of victims in restorative justice models by means of a collaborative endeavour involving institutions (Department of Juvenile Justice) and operational organisations working in the field of restorative justice and/or crime victim support.
The project will be carried out in partnership with other departments of juvenile justice as well NGOs and other organisations working in the field of restorative justice and/or victim support. The inclusion of institutional and operational partners reflects a recognition of the importance, demonstrated by research and experience, of cooperation and coordination between players in the long-term success of crime prevention measures (including witness protection).
The Italian Department of Juvenile Justice’s combined experience and expertise makes it particularly suitable for implementing the project and the tasks indicated, making it possible to attain knowledge that can then be transferred to other countries and sectors (i.e., the adult system).
OBJECTIVES AND ACTIVITIES
The general objective is to promote the integration of victims and victim protection within existing restorative justice practices in the juvenile justice system in order to:
1) highlight and take advantage of existing best practices both within restorative justice and victim-specific services and
2) reinforce cooperation between juvenile justice institutions, restorative justice organizations and organizations that support crime victims.
Objective 1 – To enhance interventions targeting victims within restorative justice existing models, developing a common line of intervention. The objective is to improve good practices related to the support and counseling and other services provided to victims of crime as well as the capacity to listen and give them a voice within the RJ practice (e.g., victim-offender mediation, conciliation, conferencing, restorative actions).
RELATED ACTIONS –Active involvement of:
– restorative justice practitioners in order to identify new to ways for approaching and involving victims within RJ practices/models;
– local victim support service providers in order to identify new to ways for approaching and involving victims within RJ practices/models operators of Services of restorative justice on new ways to approach the victim;
– the judiciary in order to assess the potential for enhancing victim involvement within judicial proceedings.
Specific activities will include local events involving the indicated stakeholders (e.g., seminars, workshops).
Objective 2- To promote and enhance the involvement of victim support organisations operating in the selected areas.
RELATED ACTIONS – Identification and integration of practices and lessons from victim support work in order to improve the quality of victim involvement in RJ models for juvenile offenders.
Objective 3 – To have a concrete impact within the contexts in which juveniles spend their time in order to:
a. to prevent offending and victimization, increase awareness and sensitivity, and promote legality through ad hoc interventions in specific contexts in order to prevent juvenile offending;
b. to individuate and define a shared methodology to promote the awareness of victimization within the targeted contexts.
RELATED ACTIONS – Activation of pathways/thematic groups in the contexts where juveniles live and/or spend free time such as: schools, day centres, and social centres.
Possible topics: victims of crime of juveniles offenders, bullying, victimization.