In a lot of countries, the interest in restorative justice has grown dramatically, both outside and at the very core of the penal area, according to the nature and the seriousness of interpersonal conflicts.With the participation of the community, Restorative Justice allows the accompaniment of the sentence, the restoration of the victim and the offender and the reparation of the social link.
The measures that restorative justice promotes, likely to be introduced at different stages of the criminal process and during the enforcement of the sentence, rely on the meeting with the people involved in the crime and the offence, within the framework of a face to face restorative mediation, of a conference of the family group, of a restorative circle, of a sentencing circle, of convict-victim meetings or even support and responsibility circles.These multiple measures require the combination of specific conditions in terms of the willingness and the involvement of the people concerned.Their implementation also supposes the presence of specifically trained third parties to accompany the participants.As a matter of fact Restorative Justice is anything but improvisation and precipitation.
For most participants, the scientific evaluations are particularly telling in terms of; the satisfaction for the justice delivered, the recognition of their suffering; the significant improvement of their physical and psychic health; the restoration of self-esteem, of empowerment; the significant decrease in the “fear of crime”; the facilitation of the work of the magistrates themselves; the effective completion of the agreements negotiated; the lower rate of reoffending or even the lesser cost.
We have got to strengthen this harmonious interdependence between the criminal-handling of the consequences and the restorative-consideration for the repercussions of the crime.However it has only been a few years since the restorative question timidly emerged in our country.A 2007 report by the National Council of Aid to Victims and colloquiums organized by INAVEM in 2008 and 2012, and then by The Protestant Federation of France in 2013 permitted to build awareness of the main restorative justice measures.Furthermore, a few experiments were conducted: inmate-victim meetings in Poissy in 2010 and 2014, circles of support and responsibility implemented by the SPIP of Yvelines and a few other meetings in an open environment.
There is no denying that no large scale experiment has yet been conducted in our country.Today however the October 25th 2012 directive of the European Parliament and the council makes it mandatory for us to set up restorative justice services and the Minister of Justice herself would likethe principle of restorative justice to be part of the code of criminal proceedings.
These are the circumstances in which the French Platform for Restorative Justice was born in September 2013, driven by the prison chaplaincy of the French Protestant Federation.To date, the members are: Sabrina Bellucci (director of INAVEM), Brice Deymié (senior chaplain of the French Protestant Federation), Robert Cario (president of the French Institute for Restorative Justice) , Marc Gérin (Orthodox chaplain), François Goetz (prison governor), Christophe Hahling (rector, chaplain), Silvie Hege (Mennonite theologian), Pascal Hickel (rector, chaplain), Arnaud Latscha (Mediator), Vincent Leclair (national Catholic chaplain), Hans Lefebvre (integration and probation counsellor), Paul Mbanzoulou ( Director of research and documentation, ENAP), Frédéric Rognon (Professor of philosophy, Strasbourg), Eric Rommeluère (Buddhist, former Buddhist chaplaincy coordinator), Arnaud Stolz (rector, Strasbourg regional chaplain), Pierre-Victor Tournier (CNRS researcher), Marion Trotignon (criminologist)
The platform’s ambitions are the following:
- Being the preferred contact organization with the public authorities to uphold the merits of restorative justice.
- Participating in the discussions on the meaning of crime and offences and the meaning of punishment.
- Fostering public debate on all these questions
- Sensitizing those working in the social, security, justice and health services to the benefits of restorative justice, its principles and the guarantees of its implementation.
- Promoting the training of the actors of restorative meetings (professionals and volunteers): mediations, conferences and restorative circles, inmate/convict-victim meetings, support and responsibility circles.
- Enhancing the opportunity for restorative meetings in prison facilities or in the community by sharing our networks.