Victim – Offender Conferencing: Issues of Power Imbalance For Women Juvenile Participants"

Field, Rachael M. (2004) Victim – Offender Conferencing: Issues of Power Imbalance For Women Juvenile Participants". ELaw Journal: Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law, 11(1).


The criminal justice system is a difficult place for young women to find themselves. Clearly still in a minority, traditional systems of court processing and detention have failed to deal with the social and gender issues that contextualise their presence in the system. The introduction of alternative, informal processes, such as juvenile victim-offender conferencing, has created a greater potential for juvenile women offenders to be involved in more appropriate processes that could possibly result in their long-term diversion out of the criminal justice system. These processes are now increasingly being used, which positively indicates that alternatives like conferencing are moving "away from the margins and closer to the mainstream of how we do justice in our society." With this move, however, and as more referrals and conferences occur, the imperative to protect vulnerable participants increases. This means that the need for analysis and critique of issues relating to the practice and procedure of conferencing in terms of just outcomes for young offenders is now more pressing than ever. In particular, young women can face a number of gendered practical and process disadvantages in victim-offender conferencing which impact on their effective participation and consequently can result in unjust outcomes from the process.

This paper provides a feminist critical analysis of important power-based participation issues for young women offenders in a current model of victim–offender juvenile conferencing. It considers issues that impact on the appropriateness for both genders of juvenile victim-offender conferencing, and argues that young women participants have special needs and issues arising out of additional gender-related power imbalances. These issues need to be confronted if conferencing is to offer just outcomes for young women offenders.

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ID Code: 6268
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
ISSN: 1321-8247
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2004 Murdoch University and Rachael M. Field
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Deposited On: 22 Feb 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:06

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