The author has experience as a practitioner, trainer and researcher, and the Handbook reflects this breadth. After an outline of the restorative justice concept, Umbreit places it in the context of conventional criminal justice and of social conditions generally. The practical sections of the book include checklists of points to consider when setting up and running a victim/offender mediation service, and ‘do’s and don’ts’ which make the reader feel that the author speaks from hands-on experience. His model is described as ‘victim-sensitive mediation and dialogue with offenders’, and emphasizes that the process, the dialogue, is at least as important as any agreement that the victim and offender may reach. Almost every sentence in these chapters makes a point which managers of mediation services and trainers of mediators would do well to include in their planning or their training programmes. There is a separate chapter on multi-cultural sensitivity. Much of this relates to work with juveniles, and with relatively minor offences, but Umbreit points out that the process is at least as valuable in cases of severe violence, and is being increasingly requested even by relatives of homicide victims.
A national survey of victim offender mediation in the USA gives facts and figures, but also reviews critically the diverse procedures used in the 289 programmes. Research findings from 40 studies are summarized giving data that may be useful in drawing up funding proposals. The main text concludes with the opportunities and threats facing restorative justice.
Source: Vanspauwen, K., Robert, L., Aertsen, I., Parmentier, S. (2003), Restorative Justice and Restorative Detention. A selected and annotated bibliography. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Faculteit Rechtsgeleerdheid, Onderzoeksgroep Penologie en Victimologie.