Mediation for teenage offenders?

I came across this article in Haaretz today, just after I was explaining to a colleague where mediation currently and potentially fits into Israeli society. Seems like the government has thought of one I had missed:

Teenage offenders may get mediation, not jail

The issue:

“A majority of teenagers who commit minor crimes will no longer be arrested or sent to jail, but will be dealt with through alternative means, if a revolutionary bill approved this week by the government receives Knesset approval.”

The existent problems:

1. “There are several mediation projects for teenage offenders in Israel, but the proceedings are not anchored in law, so they are often unrecognized by the courts.”

2. “The existing law recognizes only one alternative proceeding – non-prosecution, in which a teen pleads guilty, receives a warning, and the case is closed. But not only is this avenue devoid of any rehabilitation process, it is used in a discriminatory fashion…”

The plan:

“Under the bill, a teenager who has committed a crime would meet with the victim of the crime, if both agree to this, and hear about the damage caused, try to understand, ask forgiveness, and even pay compensation. Family and community members are usually brought into such mediation proceedings to support both sides.”

Why it would help:

1. The bill sets clear, uniform criteria for eligibility for either non-prosecution or mediation.”

2. “Besides mediation costing a great deal less than the cost of going to trial… the proposed law as a crucial tool for reducing crime in Israel.

3. Long term solutions aimed at solidifying the result! Or at least, we have to hope so.

I’m more than glad to see mediation becoming a more realistic option in Israeli law and society. Let’s hope the people are into it; this isn’t an easy culture in general.


One Response to Mediation for teenage offenders?

  1. Bernard le Roux says:

    Came accross this sequence searching for transformative mediation and crime.

    I work with victim offender mediation in Sweden. After two meetings with Joe Folger in Sweden, we have decided to transform our own mediation practice. We use the transformative mediation approach in mediating between victims and offenders.

    To pick up on your explanation of transformative mediation: a weak, marginalised (isolated) and self-absorbed youngster is more likely to engage in criminal activity than one who is empowered and connected. Likewise an empowered and connected victim (or perhaps one should say ex-victim) is more likely to get on with life and even grow through the negative experience. This is where we place our focus and we have seen amazing results.

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