New report on humane approaches addressing criminal behavior

Our chair Tim Chapman and vice-chair Annemieke Wolthuis conducted together with the Dutch criminologist Anneke van Hoek a research on humane reactions and projects after crime. It resulted in a report: The Road Less Travelled, More Humane Approaches to Addressing the Harm of Criminal Behaviour. It contains information on RJ approaches, but also many more approaches.

This document is the result of a two-year research project funded by an international philanthropic organization. This is a shortened version of the full research material which included international human rights standards and detailed regional scans of Europe, Latin America and North America which mapped patterns of criminal behaviour and institutional responses to crime. The EFRJ supported the project with relevant data and studies on RJ. They also administered a survey among its members and network partners.

The research started with the core question: what are ‘More Humane Approaches Addressing the Harm of Criminal Behaviour’? The first exploration contained a closer look at the different aspects: human and humane, approaches, harm, criminal behaviour and at the different stages of the criminal justice chain. Definitions have been developed on the basis of literature and interviews with experts. At the same time an explorative research was done in different parts of the world on loopholes and good practices.

It was identified that more humane approaches to addressing the harm of criminal behaviour are based upon the dignity of the individual, upon the solidarity of people supporting each other and upon social justice. More humane approaches activate in practical and effective ways people’s agency, victims’ ability to act to recover from harm and perpetrators’ ability to act to redeem themselves. Such approaches build pro-social relationships that support recovery and desistance from offending. And they bear witness to and strive to reform abuses of human rights, discrimination and stigmatisation. Such a different road is much needed in current society.

The report can be downloaded here. The reference is: Chapman, T., Hoek, van, A. & Wolthuis, A. (2018), The Road Less Travelled, More Humane Approaches to Addressing the Harm of Criminal Behaviour, Amsterdam: Restorative Justice Nederland.

You can contact Annemieke Wolthuis for more information and comments: [email protected]