Restorative Justice - Juvenile Meditation

About the programme
Mediation is usually a face-to-face meeting, in the presence of a trained mediator, between the victim of a crime and the person who committed that crime. Mediation as a method is a part of the term “Restorative justice”. Tony Marshall composed a frequently cited and still useful definition of restorative justice in 1999: "Restorative justice is a process whereby parties with a stake in a specific offence collectively resolve how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future." (TM 1999) In his Little Book of Restorative Justice, published in 2002, Howard Zehr acknowledged and modified Marshall's 1999 definition this way, "Restorative justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible." 

Target group and goal
Restorative justice is grounded in the desire to address harm to relationships caused by wrongdoing. It emphasizes responding to the harms and needs of victims rather than the wrongdoing of the offender.

Restorative approaches to justice seek to engage and empower involved and impacted parties including the offenders, the victims and a broad circle of individuals from their families and communities. Therefore, the focus for a restorative approach to justice is in the answers to four questions:
•    Who has been hurt? What harms have been done?
•    What are their needs?
•    What does it take to repair the harm (put things as right as possible?) and
•    Whose has responsibility or obligation to participate in making it right?

The mediators invite all those affected by the offence, including victims, to a meeting. The mediators use a script to facilitate a structured discussion about the harm caused by the offence and how this could be repaired. Using the script the mediators facilitate the dialogue between the parties. They use the following open ended questions structured in three phases of the past, present and future:
•    What happened when....?
•    What did you think when...?
•    What did you feel when...?
•    Who is affected by the harm done....?
•    What do you need to do now?

It is also possible to involve the immediate network from both sides (family, friends, teachers, neighbours and so on), so that more practical and emotional consequences of the conflict are revealed. The network can cooperate with the parties in order to find a lasting solution to the conflict. Mobilizing networks and support persons in recovery and reconciliation process has proved to be an advantage.

Mediation in Norway
All municipalities in Norway offer mediation in the Mediation Services in accordance with the law on Mediation Services of 1991. There are currently 22 Mediation Services and about 700 local mediators. Approximately 9000 cases per year are handed over by the police, prosecutor and others to the Mediation Services. The mediation organised by the Mediation Services is free of charge for the parties involved. All cases require consent of both parties before mediation can take place. Mediation Services deal both with civil and criminal cases.

Mediation can be used as an alternative, or as a part, of the punishment, as well as a condition for suspended sentence. It is prosecutors who transfer criminal cases to the Mediation Services. The Attorney General has instructed prosecutors to increase the use of this scheme, and the transfer of cases to the Mediation Services has increased in recent years.

A pilot project was established in 2006 within the Mediation Service of Sør-Trøndelag to ensure close follow-up of young offenders committing repeatedly serious crimes.  Following the results of this pilot project the Norwegian authorities have allocated resources to establish such kind of follow-up teams in all Norwegian municipalities. The follow-up teams consist of representatives of different agencies like the police, child welfare, health care, school system and correctional services.

All who are affected by a crime can participate in a process where they decide in cooperation and jointly how to deal with the effect of the offence and its consequences for the future. The goal is to stop the criminal “career”.

Greater focus on “restorative justice” and increased use of mediation is an important priority for the prevention of new crime among young offenders in Norway. In this work, the need to mobilize a broad and inter-agency network around the offender is emphasized. Mediation service plays a key role as facilitator for a coordinated effort from the support system around.

Several Mediation Services have particularly good experience with conferencing/circles. Conferencing involves a systematic group process that can lead to conflict resolution. The intention is that participants will be able to take responsibility for the conflict. This kind of meeting normally has many participants sometimes up to 30 participants. To sum it up, in crime prevention, the Mediation Services play a central role. The emphasis is on expanding the use of mediation and at the same time ensuring the comprehensive follow-up of the individual offender.

Mediation in Russia    
Arkhangelsk and Murmansk regions have launched pilot projects for training and using mediation with juveniles in conflict with the law. This is organised under the umbrella of the CYAR programme as well as the cooperation programme between the Ministry of Justice and Public Security of Norway and the Ministry of Justice of Russia.

The trained mediators are specialists of educational centers, social welfare institutions, youth authorities, commissions for the affairs of minors and protection of their rights, and non-profit organizations. Training is performed in the same processual way as it is done in Norway – through workshops, working in teams, role plays and theoretical lectures. A complete course consists of 7 days training seminars divided into sessions.  In between the training sessions (2-3 months) the participants practise their acquired skills and knowledge and are obliged to organise the mediation process in at least two cases each.

Mediation is very well developed in the Arkhangelsk region where 22 specialists have already undergone training and use mediation in practice. 15 mediators from Arkhangelsk region have been trained as instructors in order to facilitate the further local trainings of mediators. Arkhangelsk region has established a local multi-agency working group on introducing child friendly justice in order to facilitate the use of mediation using minors. 

The working group has developed a procedure that, in particular, means to apply mediation at the pre-trial and trial stages. The introduction of mediation in Arkhangelsk is coordinated by the Commission for the affairs of minors and protection of their rights with the support of the Governor of the Arkhangelsk region.  

Mediation is used in five pilot towns of the Arkhangelsk region. Arkhangelsk region has established a very successful multi-agency local cooperation mechanism. After one year of implementing these measures it is reported a significant increase of applications for mediation from investigating authorities.

The next step in the promotion of mediation in the North-West of Russia is to facilitate the introduction of mediation in Murmansk region during 2014 - 2015. The first group of mediators have undergone training in 2013. It is also planned to broaden the mediation network in the Arkhangelsk region. Instructors have started the training process in order to be able to train more mediators.

Contact information

Iren Sørfjordmo
The Mediation Service of South Trondelag
Trondheim, Norway
Tlf.: +47 22032565/ +47 908 83 117

Elena Dunaeva
Methodologist, coordinator of mediation in the Arkhangelsk region
Centre for psychological, medical, social counselling “Nadezhda” for children in need for psychological, pedagogical, medical and social help in the Arkhangelsk region
Arkhangelsk, Russia
Tel.: +7 8182 28 58 31