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Mainstreaming Restorative Justice in South Australia’s Criminal Justice System: A Response to the Over‑Representation of Indigenous Offenders

Alexandra Smith


John Braithwaite, a leading advocate for restorative justice, stated that:

There can be no justice in a world without connectedness and empathy; at the same time, social capital cannot flourish in a world without an infrastructure of security around human relationships that can only be guaranteed by institutions of justice.

In recent years, the concept of restorative justice has attracted much attention from policy makers, legal practitioners and social justice advocates. This essay discusses the shortcomings of South Australia’s current court system and its failure to adequately respond to the needs of Indigenous offenders, and considers the potential for the increased use of principles of restorative justice to provide beneficial outcomes in addressing those needs. The following is a consideration of how mainstream criminal sentencing can be reimagined to integrate restorative justice, and suggests that South Australia adopt legislation based on the Crimes (Restorative Justice) Act 2004 (ACT) in order to mandate restorative justice considerations as a compulsory part of the criminal sentencing process.

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