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African Social Science Review

Abstract

Crime creates psychosocial needs for victims, offenders, and communities where they occur—whether it is homogeneous or heterogeneous. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system does not recognize and take steps to meet these needs. This failure stems from a mischaracterization of the state or government as the crime victim. Our contention is that this problem also emerges from the theoretical groundswell that posits that offender must pay for his or her crime through incarceration. The result of this skewed perception of crime and victimhood has not deterred crime as evidenced by the high rate of recidivism. Certainly, crime-created psychological and social needs, also referred to in this analysis as psychosocial needs, do exist. The overarching question for this analysis is: Does the traditional criminal justice system meet these requirements? Contrarily, the restorative justice system is a method of justice administration that focuses on meeting the psychosocial needs of victims, offenders, and communities. The goal of restorative justice may be realized through victim-offender conference, family group conference, and peacemaking circles. Our findings revealed that these programs are effective because their success is supported by factors such as high rate of participation; the satisfaction of victims, the offenders and the communities where the crime occurred; as well as the programs’ popularity.

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