Restoring justice for juveniles: A critical analysis of victim- offender mediation

Bruce A. Arrigo, Robert C. Schehr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Increases in youth crime have placed considerable strain on both the criminal justice and the juvenile justice system. In response to mounting caseloads and diminishing resources, some experts suggest that a restorative justice model, using victim-offender mediation (VOM) principles, is necessary for combating crime and its, impact on victims, juveniles, and the community. In this article we evaluate the merits of VOM programs and the philosophy of restorative justice as applied to adolescent offenders. Relying on the interpretive tools of the postmodern sciences, we carefully examine the language of restoration as structuring victim-offender mediation sessions. Integrated, selected contributions from psychoanalytic semiotics and chaos theory underpin this investigation. We demonstrate how VOM discourse advertently or inadvertently marginalizes juveniles. Therefore, as a policy matter, we argue that the goals of restorative justice are not presently realized. We conclude by provisionally describing how a more humane dialogue can be achieved through language, advancing the transformative themes of restoration and reconciliation. Here, too, the analysis is informed by a synthesis of additional insights found in psychoanalytic semiotics and chaos theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-666
Number of pages38
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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