67 Rev. Jur. U.P.R. 605 (1998)
Criminal Justice and Public Policy Concerns of Community Conferences: Some Observations on Community Conferences: Shame and Anger in Therapeutic Jurisprudence by Thomas Scheff

handle is hein.journals/rjupurco67 and id is 619 raw text is: 






CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC POLICY CONCERNS OF
COMMUNITY CONFERENCES: SOME OBSERVATIONS ON
  COMMUNITY CONFERENCES: SHAME AND ANGER IN
  THERAPEUTIC JURISPRUDENCE BY THOMAS SCHEFF

                    DENISE ARMSTRONG*

  Professor Scheff correctly notes the increasing attention to
crime in Western societies. In Canada's last federal election, the
Reform Party which now forms the Queen's Loyal Opposition in
Parliament campaigned strongly on revamping the country's lax
(or perceived as lax) criminal laws, with particular emphasis on
the Young Offenders Act. Canadians also enjoy discounts on
auto insurance if the car has an installed anti-theft alarm; we
pay more if we live in a so-called high crime area. Yet Canada
has not adopted the same pattern of other countries in the ma-
jor expansion or building of new prisons; instead there is an in-
creasing movement towards expanding sentencing options to
avoid burgeoning or uncontrollable prison populations.
  Professor Scheff applies restorative justice and therapeutic ju-
risprudence frameworks to a diversion program called commu-
nity conferences. A similar program in Canada is circle sentenc-
ing. Based on the same premise that the community take
responsibility for its well-being and the well-being of its mem-
bers, circle sentencing aims to meet the needs of the offenders,
victims and their communities. At the sentencing hearing, par-
ticipants sit facing each other thereby facilitating discussion.
This format also removes the traditional dominance of judges
and lawyers, encourages free flow of information, stimulates
community members' participation, involves the victim in the
sentencing process, and promotes a sharing of responsibility
with the community.'
  Like community conferences, circle sentencing is not appropri-
ate for all offenders. So far, this program has been used mainly
with First Nations people whose culture follows a less adver-


  * School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University.
  1 See CURT GRIFFITHS & SIMON VERDUN-JONES, CANADIAN CRIMINAL JUSTICE
(2nd ed. 1994).


605

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