Life pathways and narratives of young women who have offended and participated in restorative justice

Larsson, Birgit (2014) Life pathways and narratives of young women who have offended and participated in restorative justice. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This research is a mixed-methods study of young women who offended and were referred to police-facilitated restorative justice in the UK. Through analysis of twelve life history interviews with young women and secondary analysis of administrative police data (N=17,486; 51% male, 46.3% female) from one police force, it captures how women become involved in restorative justice (as victims, offenders, support people) and examines young women’s pathways to offending as well as to desistance.
Although restorative justice research has traditionally been quantitative in nature, restorative justice itself works through storytelling, and for that reason, a narrative approach was used for the qualitative study. There were three sets of qualitative findings. First, the young women presented identities that can be characterized in three ways, as “fighters,” “survivors,” or “good girls.” Second, the young women described their own offending to the interviewer through “morality tales,” in which they neutralized offending, for example, as a form of play or a way to be a good mother. Finally, young women’s narratives of restorative justice and the police drew connections between identities, “morality tales,” and experiences in restorative justice highlighting that previous negative experiences with police; poor facilitation by the police during restorative justice; previous histories of victimization; and complex relationships with the young women’s victims all impacted on young women’s experiences in restorative justice.
In the quantitative study, secondary analysis was conducted on five years of administrative police data. The analysis focused on general participation in restorative justice by men and women and examined the effect of variables including age, gender, offence type, restorative justice type, group versus alone offending, and relationship between the victim and the offender. Findings revealed that restorative justice in this county was primarily used for very minor offending (possibly indicating net-widening); for offences involving corporate rather than personal victims; and that less time-intensive forms of restorative justice (street restorative justice) were predominantly chosen regardless of offence type.
The study concludes that police-facilitated restorative justice, especially in relation to vulnerable young women, could be improved by ensuring diversity (race, ethnicity, gender) amongst police facilitators; increasing facilitators’ awareness of young female offenders’ frequent experiences of victimization prior to offending; preparing both offenders and victims before restorative justice; ensuring young offenders have support in restorative justice, especially if they cannot rely on their families; and never forcing apologies if participants do not want to give them.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Social Work
Depositing User: Jackie Webb
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2015 14:32
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2015 14:32


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