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Dispute Resolution Programs

History, Variety In Program Structures And Protocols, Critique, Bibliography

One night in 1974, two young men in Elmira, Ontario, Canada, vandalized the property of twenty-two people: they broke windows, slashed tires, and damaged churches, stores, and cars. They pled guilty to twenty-two charges. The offenders did not pay restitution to the court clerk's office, however. Instead, in an experiment jointly administered by the probation department's volunteer program and the Mennonite Central Committee, the two young offenders met with each of their victims. It was hoped that meeting with the victims would help the offenders to see restitution payments less as fines and more as compensation to real people for real losses. Within six months, the young men had fulfilled their restitution obligations in full. Many see this case as the birth of victim-offender mediation, the principal form of dispute resolution in criminal cases. The success of this experiment encouraged others to develop similar programs.

JENNIFER GERARDA BROWN

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal Law