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    At the end of 2000, a pilot project began in Flanders (Belgium) to offer family group conferencing for juvenile offenders. Since June 2006, this restorative practice – together with victim-offender mediation – has been inserted in the new Youth Justice Act, making conferencing available in all judicial districts in Flanders. Five years later, however, the mediation-services had to conclude that the number of referrals for conferencing remains rather limited. This observation inspired the mediation services to take actions to bring conferencing more to the attention. This article reports on the findings of a study that was part of this process. Based on (1) an analysis of all conferencing-files that were referred between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 31, (2) focus groups with youth court social workers and criminologists working at the level of the public prosecutor and (3) surveys conducted with youth judges, the study aimed to identify and discuss barriers and obstacles within the current referral practice of conferencing in Flanders.


Lieve Bradt
Lieve Bradt studeerde af als sociaal agoog aan de Universiteit Gent. In 2009 promoveerde zij op een proefschrift over herstelbemiddeling en sociaal werk. Momenteel is zij als doctor-assistent verbonden aan de Vakgroep Sociale Agogiek van de Universiteit Gent.
Artikel

Een blik op herstelbemiddeling vanuit een sociaal werk-perspectief

Tijdschrift Tijdschrift voor Herstelrecht, Aflevering 1 2010
Trefwoorden sociaal werk, herstelbemiddeling, emancipatie, responsabilisering
Auteurs Lieve Bradt
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The author reports on the doctorate research that she presented in 2009. Restorative practices have not often been researched as a praxis of social work, on the interface between giving help and administering justice. The author situates restorative mediation as a form of social work on the threshold between the private and the public, a threshold that she considers to be of a social nature.Restorative mediation as social work should contribute to values such as human dignity and social justice. The author observed and studied restorative mediation in adult on the one hand and juvenile criminal cases on the other (in Flanders, Belgium) and found that these practices differ widely.Although in both kind of practices responsibility and restoration are central concepts, their meanings differ fundamentally: in youth cases the offer of restorative mediation departs from a critical pedagogy oriented at emancipation, holding on to protective arrangements at the same time. Societal developments changed the image of youngsters from victims of society into risks for society and this may have implied that social problems around criminality are now also by mediation transformed into individual problems for which juveniles should be held accountable.In adult criminal cases the approach was initially much more on civic responsibility for the harm done to victims and since mediation was only offered in serious cases the courts always had their say too.Reflecting upon her research the author questions whether dominant social norms can be and still are challenged in the praxis of mediation. Restorative mediation has become incorporated into the existing institutional arrangements relevant to juveniles and adults: with juvenile cases the logic of prevention seems to become dominant. The practices seem to become exercises in taking responsibility within the traditional normative framework. On the threshold between the private and the public restorative practices, with their self-image of being a more humane form of law enforcement, run the risk of becoming blind for the potential effect of criminalization of their clients.


Lieve Bradt
Lieve Bradt is als sociaal-agoog verbonden aan de Universiteit van Gent. Zij is in 2009 gepromoveerd op haar proefschrift met de titel Victim-offender mediation as social work practice. A comparison between mediation for Young and adult offenders in Flanders.
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