Seminar on Desistance and RJ (in French)

On 28 May, the French Platform for Restorative Justice (Institut Français pour la Justice Restaurative, IFJR) will host the seminar ‘Rompre avec le crime et la délinquance pour combattre la récidive? Désistance, justice restaurative et communautéin Paris (France).

The seminar (in French) will explore the concept of desistance and its possible link with restorative justice, in particular ‘can restorative justice be a necessary step in the path of desistance?’.

This is the topic also of one of the latest EU-funded projects coordinated by the European Forum for Restorative Justice between 2012 and 2014, entitled ‘Desistance and Restorative Justice: mechanisms for desisting from crime within restorative justice practices‘.

The project coordinator of the EFRJ project ‘Desistance and RJ’, Dr Katrien Lauwaert, will present during the IFJR seminar in Paris: ‘The potential of restorative justice confirmed the desistance process. An opportunity or a threat?’. Find here the programme of the event.

A short report of this event (written by Dr Katrien Lauwaert) is available below.


‘Rompre avec le crime et la délinquance pour combattre la récidive ?’
Annual conference of the French Platform for Restorative Justice, Paris, 28 May 2015

In the House of Lawyers, near the famous headquarters of the Paris police, the French Platform for Restorative Justice held its annual conference on 28 May 2015. Desistance, restorative justice and the community were the main themes of the day which was entitled ‘Rompre avec le crime et la délinquance pour combattre la récidive ?’

The goal of the conference was to introduce the concept of desistance, which is still not very well known in France, and to explore what the role of restorative justice can be in desistance processes. 


After a warm welcome by Brice Deymié(national chaplain of the Protestant Federation of France), the main concepts of the day were introduced. Eric Rommeluère (member of the Platform) started with a reflection on ‘Restorative justice : why and for whom ?’ in which he gave special attention to the interpretation of the role of the community. The 2014 penal reform in France introduced the possibility to propose victims and offenders of crime to participate in a restorative measure in every stage of the criminal procedure. Paul Mbanzoulou (Director of research and documentation of the National School of the Penitentiary Administration of France – ÉNAP) presented the concept of desistance, its challenges and promises. Astrid Hirschelmann (Lecturer in Psychopathology and Criminology and assistant director of the interdisciplinary centre for the analysis of human and social processes, Université Rennes 2) closed the morning session with an intervention on the evolution of practices and methods in the guidance of people who are under control of the penal system.


The afternoon sessions looked into experiences from abroad. Penny Parker (lawyer responsible for the Sycamore Tree Programme in England and Wales) presented how the Sycamore Tree Programmes work and highlighted their fast expansion and the positive evaluation results. Katrien Lauwaert (senior researcher at the KU Leuven and the European Forum for Restorative Justice) presented the results of a European empirical research project which explores the link between desitance and restoreative justice. Through 80 interviews with desisters in Austria, Belgium and Northern Ireland the research reveals mechanisms proper to RJ processes which – according to the desisters – have helped them in their desistance process. The research confirms the potential of RJ to (sometimes) trigger and (more often) support desistance. Especially for people with a serious previous criminal lifestyle the participation in RJ is one (modest) link in long and complex chain of opportunities and events supporting offenders who want to change. Frieder Dünkel (Professor in criminology and criminal law at the University of Greifswald-Germany) presented an overview of research results showing what is efficient support of desistance from criminal careers. A lively debate followed which confirmed the critical and enthousiast engagement of the public for restorative justice.

More information on the development of RJ in France can be found at here, more information on the French Platform for Restorative Justice is available here.


Katrien Lauwaert


Download here the .pdf of Katrien Lauwaert’s report.