The article discusses a restorative justice project operating for the past two years within the wing of “governement collaborators” in an Italian prison. The project has involved the wing’s prisoners, the local and national prisons’ administration, and the local university. After offering a short presentaion of the project’s aims and results, the author suggests that the introduction of restorative practices in prison creates ambivalence among the prisoners and the staff because of contrasting pressures, tensions, obligations, and working procedures. On the one hand, there are the goals and rules that guide a restorative process; on the other, there are the rules and constraints of a total institution. While the author believes that restorative justice practices introduced within a prison can offer definite advantages, he concludes that it cannot presume to change the distinctive traits of a total institution and ultimately cannot escape being transformed into an ideology of punishment.
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.