Citizen Participation in Canadian Criminal Justice: The Emergence of 'Inclusionary Adversarial' and 'Restorative' Models

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Book Review

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Criminal Justice, Citizenship, Participation, Restorative Justice, Traditional Criminal Justice, Citizen Alienation


Changes in how citizens relate to criminal justice are in the air. Perennial demands to "get tough on crime" continue. But as a society, we are "getting smart about getting tough. As the new Youth Criminal Justice Act and the relatively recent amendments to the sentencing provisions of the Criminal Code attest, Canada is at the forefront of international developments which acknowledge the importance of integrating restorative and more traditional paradigms of criminal justice. Moreover, the character of traditional criminal justice is changing. All these initiatives are rooted in varying degrees of citizen alienation from what traditionally happened in our criminal justice system. Individual citizens and identifiable communities are demanding greater participation in the administration of criminal justice. Courts, legislators and criminal justice policy makers are responding to these demands with measures, sometimes ad hoc and sometimes more coordinated, to increase the capacities of those affected by criminal harms, and their procedural aftermath, to participate meaningfully in effective societal responses to these wrongs. Meanwhile there is ferment in the scholarly literature about concepts of citizenship and theories of democracy. This paper is intended to sketch a map of these changes and reflect on the various new trails that are being blazed over what might otherwise be thought to be somewhat familiar territory.