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Mothers – the silent supporters

People Involved

Dr Bev Orton
Lecturer in Criminology and Sociology/ Academic Contact for Collaborative Provision

Project Description

Restorative justice enables a more flexible approach of meeting the different needs and coping strategies of victims and offenders (Gall, 2011). As Sullivan and Tift (2013: 214) maintain, one way in which restorative justice can be achieved is through the full participation of those involved in the situation. However in 68% of initial interview panels only the mothers participated (Crawford and Newburn, 2013: 157). In their research study Daly and Stubbs found that ‘over half of the offender’s (52 per cent) or victim’s (58 per cent) supporters were women and that there were more mothers present than fathers’ (Daly and Stubbs, 2006: 15-16). For Gilligan women tended to be more aware of relationships and interpersonal connections within the family and to use this when making judgements rather than using rules and rights (Gilligan, 1982). This research sets out to examine the experiences and participation of mothers in the restorative justice process. Using cases studies and participant observation in the Humberside region the study will look specifically at interventions and during the referral stage in relation to mother’s participation. Research suggests two strong arguments in relation to mother’s participation in processes such as this. The first is that within the restorative process the female’s voice has the possibility of being heard in a different way to that within criminal court practices (Daly, 2013: 363). The second is that the shaming of the offender is compounded by destructive emotions and, therefore, the repairing of the harm and reintegration of the offender into the community is inhibited (Dignan, 2005) leading to re-offending behaviour. Exploratory case studies will be used to provide a holistic understanding of social backgrounds and links between theory and the practice of restorative justice. The case studies will provide a multi-perspective analysis in that interactions within significant relationships will be considered. Using the case study method, mothers will be encouraged to voice their description, understanding and explanation of the restorative process. Using triangulation research strategies the mothers’ perspectives of events prior, during and after the restorative process will be recorded (Leonard and Kenny, 2014). Fieldwork will include semi-structured qualitative interviews with mothers and significant others, archival records of restorative cases, participant observation of restorative conferences, direct mediation and indirect mediation and unstructured direct observation of mothers in their environment. Participant observation will be used to collect data on nonverbal expressions of emotions and interactions and communication between mothers and significant others. Unstructured direct observation using photographic images will be used to record the environment and to provide an insight into social backgrounds as well as enabling the interviewer to converse on any topic which may arise thereby providing a broader insight into the participants’ lives. Narratives of mothers’ descriptions, their understanding and explanations of their participation in the restorative process will provide a qualitative assessment of their contribution thereby assisting in assessing the impact of their role and their testimony. Information will be stored in a database and be divided into themes and subthemes providing an overview of the data, an interpretive analysis, text fragments and characteristics of respondents.

Type of Project Project
Status Project Complete
Funder(s) British Academy
Value £5,906.00
Project Dates Apr 1, 2016 - Dec 31, 2018