Juvenile Conferencing And Dealing With Offenders Criminology
The concept of a restorative justice system comprises of retributive and therapeutic models of justice that have progressive and constructive model of responding to crime in the community. The approaches of restorative justice systems accentuate on the need to protect the public and rehabilitate the offenders (Liebmann 2007). Evidently, there are various models of restorative justice systems that provide a platform whereby victims, offenders and the community in general can actively participate in the process of repairing the harm that was subjected to them with the help of professional facilitators. Juvenile conferencing is one of the models of restorative justice. Juvenile conferencing involves a group reconciliation process facilitated by a neutral third party and decisions are reached by consensus.
This paper seeks to present an incisive outlook on juvenile conferencing. It will depict how the model of juvenile conferencing relates to the overall concept of restorative justice of dealing with crimes in the community. This paper will explore the various approaches of juvenile conferencing and give illustration how this model of justice has been implemented. Moreover, this paper will highlight the advantages of using juvenile conferencing as model of promoting healing for victims and reoffending within the community. This paper will as well depict the limitations of this model as far as meeting the standards of restorative justice in responding to crimes within the community. In addition, this paper will highlight main criticisms of how juvenile conferencing has over the course of time been implemented in practice.Juvenile conferencing as a restorative justice model
The concept of juvenile conferencing is essentially a reconciliation process that is facilitated by a third party in order to achieve consensus in regard to responding to crime in way that will promote reconciliation, healing and rehabilitation amongst the victims, offender and the community in general. Juvenile conferencing is commonly practiced in the criminal and justice systems of Western countries. This model is particularly implemented in cases revolving around child protection and other criminal activities. Juvenile conferencing may include justice conferences, family group conferencing and community conferencing. Juvenile conferencing incorporates practices geared towards conflict resolutions (Goulding & Steels, 2007).
Over the course of time, the concept of juvenile has been embraced in the criminal and justice systems around the world. For instance, in 1989 legislations were enacted in New Zealand enacted giving the provisions that juvenile conferencing should be used to respond to crime rather than the traditional process of responding to crime in the criminal and justice systems.
Evidently, juvenile conferencing epitomizes the models of a restorative system since the aims of key objectives of juvenile conferencing are geared towards the healing of crime victims and restoring the perpetrators of crimes to law abiding citizens in the community. The model of juvenile conferencing is characterized by interventions that involve the victims, offenders and the community in general by giving them opportunities to be involved in the process of rehabilitation, restoration, healing and most importantly getting justice (Wachtel & McCold 2000).
In reference to Gerry Johnstone and Daniel Van Ness sentiments in the book, "Handbook of restorative justice" the appropriate model of a restorative justice system incorporates informal discussion processes that involve offenders, victims and involved parties in the community and a mediating party. Furthermore, the author of this book elaborate that the informal discussions in restorative justice processes aim at finding out what happened and what action should be taken so to avert crime incidences from occurring again (Johnstone & Van Ness 2007). Evidently, juvenile conferencing meets this criterion of credible restorative justice processes. This is mainly because juvenile conferencing is structured in way that creates a channel whereby informal discussions geared towards finding out what particular crime incidences entailed and the steps that should be taken in order to reduce or prevent such crimes from occurring again.
Moreover, Johnstone and Van Ness in the book, Handbook of restorative justice" elaborate that a credible restorative justice model should empower the lives of the victims and communities who have been affected by crime. The processes should largely focus on repairing and strengthening relationships. The authors of this book further note that, mediators and decision makers in authentic restorative justice systems should promote outcomes that focus less on stigmatizing and punishing the offender. Rather this process should incorporate processes that restore offenders in the community as law abiding citizens (Johnstone & Van Ness 2007).
In regard to the sentiments put across by the authors of this book juvenile conferencing fosters these features. Juvenile conferencing focuses on both the needs of the victims and offenders. For instance, unlike the traditional criminal and justice systems mode of responding to crimes by condemning the perpetrators, juvenile conferencing gives special attention to the harm done to the victim and the community in general. Juvenile conferencing gives to the victims a platform they can express their concerns and give suggestions on how the situation at hand should be handled. Consequently, the victim and the community experience healing and are empowered to move on with their lives. Unlike the traditional criminal and justice systems mode of responding to crimes by condemning the offenders, juvenile conferencing provides a channel whereby juvenile delinquents can fully know and acknowledge the effects of their actions. It also provides a platform of rehabilitating the offenders the help of experts in the field of criminal justice, criminal psychologists, behavioral psychologist and counseling psychologist among many others. As a result, juvenile delinquents are rehabilitated and restored back to the society as law abiding citizens (McCold & Wachtel 2003).
Liebmann (2007) in the book "Restorative justice, how it works" points out that appropriate models of restorative justice systems should communitarian. Given the fact that different communities have varying needs an effective restorative justice model should consider the interests of the community. Effective models should be beneficial to the communities involved. Therefore, it is imperative for the facilitators of the restorative justice process to put into account how the community feels about the process. The facilitators should consider how the community wants issues can be resolved, what actions should be taken and what parties are to be involved. Most importantly, authentic restorative justice models involve the community by incorporating the suggestions that have been put across (Liebmann 2007). Evidently, juvenile conferencing epitomizes the overall model of an effective restorative justice system since it communitarian and thus it considers the suggestions put across by the community and incorporates the community as it endeavors to respond to the various forms of crime.
As far as dealing with offenders is concerned, the Prison Fellowship International (PFI) Model recommends the need to foster a policy environment for the operation of good standards and practices. Therefore, a restorative justice model should incorporate autonomous committees that ensure that crime is prevented and neutralization is reduced within the sentencing circles. Furthermore, the model of dealing with offenders in restorative justice is flexible and creative in such way that it is able to address a wide range of intricate issues revolving around crimes committed against the community. The model of juvenile conferencing well-matches with the restorative justice model of dealing with offenders since it works under a policy environment with good standards and practices. In addition, juvenile conferencing incorporates autonomous bodies that reduce neutralization is reduced within the sentencing circles and prevent crime by addressing crime related issues creatively and flexibly (PFI 2009).
Models of restorative justice systems centre on building social capitals that are geared towards the enhancement social discipline through learning and participatory decision-making. Restorative justice systems offer general threads that incorporate research practices in areas such as criminal justice, social work, organizational management and counseling among many others. This unifying hypothesis in restorative justice systems should be produce rehabilitated juvenile delinquents restored back to the society as law abiding citizens through the application of certain theoretical and practical frame works of responding to crime. The applied hypotheses, theoretical and practical frameworks in restorative justice systems acknowledge that both permissive and punitive measures are not as effective as restorative processes that incorporate participatory methods. Unlike the traditional processes of responding to crime in the criminal and justice systems juvenile conferencing incorporates social capitals that work towards bringing about social discipline. Juvenile conferencing also incorporates research practices in criminal justice and counseling. Through its unifying hypothesis of responding to crime juvenile delinquents restored back to the society as law abiding citizens (Hennessey 2005).
Juvenile conferencing involves a wider circle of participants, it integrates meeting structures between victims, offenders, and in some cases their immediate families and friends. The aim of these conferences revolves around surveying and finding ways of addressing with outcomes of crime and discovering methods that can be used to repair the harm subjected to the victims of crime. These conferences also give victims and other affected parties the apposite platform to confront the offenders, ask questions, communicate their feelings and give their suggestions on the way forward.
On the other hand, offenders get a chance to get first hand information on how their offensive conduct has affected the society. Consequently, the offender may begin to mend the harm done by apologizing to the affected people, changing their behavior and being in accord with the proposed solutions of dealing with crime such as community service or financial restitution. Juvenile conferencing keep the offenders accountable while providing them with a chance of discarding the label of an offender thus integrating them into the community as law abiding citizens (McCold 1996).Approaches of juvenile conferencing
Juvenile conferencing incorporates practices of conflict resolutions and decision making processes. This process takes on a multidisciplinary approach and a restorative justice process. Retributive values are as well put into play since disciplinary action has to be taken in order to discourage the occurrence of such crime incidence. However, a restorative approach is emphasized more in the typical juvenile settings. The facilitators of this processes put into account that criminal incidences violate the relationships of people in the community thus it takes the obligation of amending relationships by involving victims , offenders and the community in general inn the process of finding solutions that promote reconciliation, restoration and the execution of justice.
Approaches of juvenile conferencing accentuate on reconciliation and the need to address the needs of the people who have been affected by crime. For instance, juvenile conference in Honolulu addressed issues in regards to reconciliation and the safety of the victims. In this case the father of a 16 year old offender expressed a safety concern of a 10 year old victim. He expressed the concern that the young victim needed to safe from the assaults of the older boy in future. Since the close family of the offender could not guarantee that the offender would not harm the young victim the conference came up with measures of rehabilitating the offender and protecting the victim thus ensuring that the needs of the victim, the offender and the community in general are met. Moreover, this juvenile conference provide the victims and other affected parties the appropriate platform to confront the offenders, ask questions, communicate their feelings and give their suggestions on the way forward (Hilde & Houchin 2009).
Participants in a juvenile conferencing model, sit in a circle without a table or any obstruction between them. In most cases, include the victims, the offenders, and the representatives of the community who have been most affected by the alleged crime incident. In some cases the conference may includes supporters of the victims and offenders such as family and friend who were also affected by the alleged crime incident. For instance, if a crime incident took place in the premises of a school or a learning institution, the school staff may be involved as the affected community and take part in the juvenile conference. In cases whereby, victims do not want to confront the offenders the conference incorporates the representatives of the missing parties (McCold & Wachtel 2003).
The process of juvenile conferencing is facilitated by a neutral third party who does not take part in decision making. Prior to the conference the facilitators undergo training program. During the training program the facilitators are trained on how to mediate between the two parties and on how to explore the underlying issues in regard to the crime committed. Furthermore, the facilitators are trained on how to handle offender in such a way that they do not feel victimized whilst they are caused to be accountable for their actions. In most cases the facilitator of juvenile conferences are experts in the field of criminal justice and counseling psychology. Facilitators of these conferences follow a set of guidelines established in restorative justice manual and reporters. These guidelines comprise of protocols that the participants must adhere. As the session begins facilitator reads to the participants the underlying preamble so as to create an environment that fosters respect, cooperation and accountability.
In most cases, juvenile conferencing occurs in four phases. In the first phase, are given a platform to come clear on their actions by admitting what they did. Offenders may explain what they were feeling or thinking when they committed a particular crime. In this phase they also express the effects of the crime incident towards their lives and that of other people. They also explain what they have learnt, thought and reflected on subsequent to the occurrence of the crime. In addition, the offenders also identify who they have affected as a result of their criminal actions. In the second phase of juvenile conference the involved parties discuss on how the offender's behavior has affected them
In the third phase, the parties involved in the conference discuss and decide that steps that should be taken in order to repair the harm that was created as a result of the alleged crime incident and how things can be made right. In the final phase of juvenile conference the agreements and decisions of the parties involved are put in writing. Thereafter, the participants sign the written agreement this implies that they agree and support the provisions of the written document. In some case juvenile conferences end with the ceremonial breaking of bread this enables the parties involved to reintegrate, heal and execute closure. It is worth noting that juvenile conferencing can only be effective when the offenders admit or acknowledge the crimes that they have committed.
Juvenile conferences are convened subsequent to the emerging tension between the victim and the offender. The main aim of this process is to initiate a process of restoring equality of participants and moral equity. Juvenile conferences aim on transforming both the offenders and the victims such that in the course of time the label of "victim" and "offender "are gradually removed. In the first instance juvenile conferences are convened in order to address the consequences of the alleged crime incident. The immediate objective is to mend emotional and material damage so as to avert further harm. These are approaches of restitution and reparation. In the close of the processes of juvenile conferencing, the moral status of the offender is restored thus they are integrating back into the society as law abiding citizens. On the other hand, the moral status of the victims is also put in to account and is not seen as less important. Since the victims might harbor anger, feelings of vengeance and hate. During the initial stages of juvenile conferencing the moral statues of the victim and the offender were profoundly unequal as far as the crime incident is concerned. However, through the interventions of the conference the moral status of both parties are restored (Walgrave 2000).
Juvenile conferences may incorporate circles of support and accountability. Given the fact that the process of behavior change takes time and is filled great challenges, offenders require a system of accountability and support. The circles of accountability and support aid offenders to amend their behavior so that they can integrate in the community as responsible law abiding citizens. In most cases juvenile delinquents are judged too harshly by the society nevertheless if they are given positive support and have accountability frameworks, they are bound to reform their community. Juvenile conferences offer community-based support and accountability frameworks that help reduce the chances of the offender indulging in a similar criminal offense. Recent research studies have showed that up to 50% of juvenile delinquents who were part of Juvenile conferences that incorporate system of accountability and support reform their behaviors such that they no longer indulge in criminal activities.Advantages of a juvenile conferencing model
Juvenile conferences bring about participant satisfaction and counter the needs of both the victim and the offender. Unlike the traditional means of responding to crime whereby emphasis is laid on a punitive approach, juvenile conference incorporates approaches that promote healing to the victims and rehabilitation for the offenders. Juvenile conferences provide a platform whereby victims are able to share their feelings thereby enabling the offender to understand how their actions affected others. The conferences adequately show support and care to the plight of victims of crime. Juvenile conferencing initiates a process of healing unlike the traditional process in criminal and justice systems that primarily focus on retribution.
Approaches of juvenile conferences work on protecting the public by rehabilitating offenders. The proponents of juvenile conferencing not entirely based on issues of taxonomy rather it entails the evaluation of the eventual outcomes. The approaches implemented in juvenile conferencing meet the standards of a restorative justice system. The outcomes of juvenile conferencing repair and strengthen relationships between victims, offenders and the community in general. Facilitators and decision makers in juvenile conferences are guided by certain values and principles that prevent discrimination of offenders thus enabling them to regain their moral status. The process of juvenile conferencing differ with the civil litigations or the adversarial legal processes in that its approaches meets the expectations of the community by putting into account the interests and suggestions of the community. Other legal processes aim at bringing justice by analyzing issues between the victims and the perpetrators of crime to legal relevancy. As a result, offenders are protected whereas the plight of the victims is neglected. Unlike these processes, juvenile conferencing expands and explore issues that are beyond legal relevancy, thus bringing consensus to both the victims and the offenders.
Juvenile conferences create a balance between the two sides of tension. The processes of juvenile incorporate both retributive and therapeutic approaches of justice in order to ensure that the needs of the both the victims and the offenders are realized fairly. The approaches in this process put into account both the needs of the victims and the rights of the offenders. Recent research studies showed that the outcomes of restorative justice programs leave victims involved in the process feeling satisfied with this type of justice system. Furthermore, in juvenile programs the victims are more likely to obtain restitution from the offenders. The participation in juvenile conferences reduces the fears of the victims towards the offender and the occurrence of a similar crime attack. Most importantly juvenile conferencing aids victims of grave crimes to heal emotionally.
Systems of accountability and support in juvenile conferencing play a great role in preventing crime and reducing neutralization within the healing circles. Through its evidence based practice, these systems in juvenile conferencing demonstrated a high aptitude in promoting the safe integration of offenders in the society. These systems of accountability and support help offenders to transform their behaviors such that they are integrated in the society as law abiding citizens. In addition, the community-based juvenile conferences systems of support and accountability reduce the chances of the offender committing a similar offense. Juvenile conferences have been attributed for reducing the widening gap of criminal activities and anti social behavior in the community. Practices in juvenile conferences incorporate behavioral and cognitive techniques that address issues of criminal conduct within the community. Through these cognitive and behavioral techniques recidivism is reduced and positive behavioral patterns are reinforced in the society.Limitations of juvenile conferencing model
Some personnel in the field of criminal justice claim that the model of juvenile conferencing offers a soft option of dealing with crime. Since offenders are hardly judged or punished for their mistakes as a result juvenile conferencing can only be used to respond to petty offense such as bribery, shoplifting and mere assaults. When it comes to dealing with grave crimes such as murder, treason or violence with bribery among many other crimes the model of juvenile conferencing is somewhat inadequate or limited since it lacks control and authority in deciding the plight of the offenders. The conference may neutralize the first nation sentencing and healing circles.
Constraints such as finances, time and human resource could inhabit the juvenile conference from delivering the expectations of the community. In some cases these process could lack financial support since the processes involved are non profit. Furthermore, most governmental agencies that deal with criminal justice are quite skeptical about funding juvenile conferencing since they doubt its effectiveness. The lack of funding limits the performance of juvenile conference since the facilitators involved are unmotivated. Given the fact that juvenile conferences consume a lot of time, the participants could be refuse to commit themselves to the entire process. Some participants could be unwilling to participate due to commitments in other areas such as education, parenting or employment among many other endeavors (Bevin & Steels et al, 2005).
Juvenile conferences are emotionally draining, in some cases victims have a hard time confronting the offenders. The victims could harbor anger, feelings of vengeance and hate thus they are unable to express themselves rationally in a way that would enhance healing. In some cases victims could refuse to participate in the conference due to the pain that they incurred as a result of the crimes committed against them. Their absence in the entire process reduces the effectiveness of the conference as far as promoting healing is concerned.Criticisms on juvenile conferencing practice
Advocates and critiques of juvenile conferencing have ardently engaged in debates in regards to issues revolving around how the practice of juvenile conferencing has been implemented. Critiques argue that juvenile conferences should be operated through diversion of cases from the traditional the criminal justice system. Some believe that this restorative model is capable of maintaining the purity of the restorative values. On the other hand, there are those who propose that juvenile conferencing should be firmly positioned within the criminal justice system. Several advocates of juvenile conferencing argue that this model should be made an integral part of the modern criminal and justice systems.
A study was conducted in a juvenile conferencing group in England. It entailed shadowing the project workers and several interviews with victims, offenders, their alibis and the facilitators of the conference. This juvenile conference dealt with juvenile offenders. It worked in conjunction with the criminal justice system and was reliant upon the system in at four main ways that is, referrals, funding, the system-oriented practitioners, and the legal framework. These four kinds of dependency of the juvenile conference on the criminal justice system and the subsequent consequences form the basis of critiquing how the practice of juvenile conferencing has been implemented. In reference to the empirical findings of the conducted study it is worth questioning how valid are the arguments of the critics on the reliance of juvenile conferencing on the ideological and structural framework of a system that is likely to lead to restorative justice?
Furthermore, do these empirical findings of the conducted study support the arguments of critiques that the adoption by juvenile conferences within the traditional criminal justice model that accentuate on particularly the victim , offender and the crime commits to the moral framework of criminal law as far as restorative justice is concerned? Does individualizing problems and turning focus from their social-structural roots promote restorative justice? In addition, is there any proof that juvenile conferencing coordinated by system-oriented practitioners enables the state to govern offenders in a hidden form or at a distance?
Some critiques are critical on the willingness by most advocates of juvenile conferencing to incorporate restorative justice within or close to the ideological and structural framework of the criminal justice system. A common concern is that when principles of juvenile conferencing are followed within or as extensions of the criminal justice system, these principles are likely to get diverted or distorted from their initial purpose and caused to serve goals of the traditional criminal and justice system(Hennessey 2005).Another criticism of practicing juvenile conferencing under the sponsorship of the criminal justice system is that the processes of the conference commit to the moral compass of systems in traditional criminal justice. This is as a result of the adoption by juvenile conferences on the important concepts such as the victim, offender and the crime that form the criminal justice system and are defined by the criminal law.
It has been observed that the failure of juvenile conferences to challenge legal definitions contributes to the avoidance of ethical discussions past the ideal framework of the criminal justice system. This can be problematic considering the claims by advocates that juvenile conferencing is a distinct moral lens through which crime and justice is gauged and a new pattern of thinking.
It was further argued that the fact that juvenile conferencing lies under the authority of criminal law, it is therefore an administrative derivative of a specific political economy and is made to safeguard the existing power relations. Criminal law segregates the society into divisions of acceptable and unacceptable conducts in order to maintain the present social order. Juvenile conferencing accepting the authority of criminal law operates to perpetuate the existing social arrangements by accentuating on interpersonal aspects of crime and turning aside from the roots of crimes situated in race, class, gender and other structural conflicts. By individualizing problems juvenile conferences disrupt conflicts and maintain the status quo thus less reform is actualized. Another significant criticism on juvenile conferencing depending on and operating as an extension of the criminal justice system is that it gives the state room to manage troublesome offenders at minimal ideological costs (Newburn 2007).
As the major funder of juvenile conferences, criminal justice systems put certain pressures on facilitators and the project workers of juvenile conferences. Therefore, if these conferences want to maintain funding they have to comply with the stipulations of the criminal justice systems. Furthermore, these juvenile conferences need to demonstrate their progress towards the desired outcomes by the criminal justice systems. Consequently, the financial dependability inhibits the autonomous operation of juvenile conferences such that there is like hood of interference from the criminal justice systems (Tyler 2006).
Some critics of juvenile conferencing complained that facilitators of these conferences are too sympathetic. Others argue that by accommodating offenders in an attempt to positively influence their behavior and discourage further offending. This in turn makes victims feel unimportant and uncomfortable. Given the fact that no conference occurs in the absence of offenders, this gives indications that juvenile conferencing gives to offenders more priorities than that of the victims.
Pre-conference reports give similar suggestions that the needs of victims are absconded. Given the fact that juvenile conferences are funded by the criminal justice systems, whose primary goal lies in reoffending juveniles promotes a situation whereby the access of victims to restorative justice is conditioned. Facilitators of juvenile conferences during interviews expressed the regret that juvenile conferences are universally not available to victims who might need restorative justice encounters. Most facilitators of juvenile conferences argue that since donors fund these conferences with the aim of responding to crime the victim agenda is sidelined (Morris 2002).
The implications of juvenile conferences operating under criminal justice systems can be illustrated by a cased study which revolved around crimes on bribery and assault committed by a group of boys against another young boy. They were declared not guilty, however the case was referred to a juvenile conference. In the proceedings of the juvenile conference sessions the victim interpreted not guilty remarks of the offender as dishonesty thus causing more pain to the victim. The revelation process during the conference session was as well distressful to the victim. It was apparent that the juvenile conference sessions added more suffering to the victim. The facilitator of the conference suggested that the offender should apologize to the victim, the offenders refused thus heightening the painful experiences of the victims. These cases can be avoided if juvenile conferences did not work under the referrals of criminal justice systems. In other cases, prior interventions of criminal justice systems compromised the achievement of objectives set by juvenile conferences. Proceedings of Juvenile conference occur subsequent to court sentencing this in turn alters the interventions of juvenile conferencing (Wachtel & McCold 2000).Recommendations
Systems of juvenile conferencing should systematically and maximally undergo reform in reference to principals of restorative justice. The models of juvenile conferencing should incorporate retributive and therapeutic models of justice that have progressive and constructive model of responding to crime in the community. The approaches of juvenile conferencing should focus on the need to protect the public and rehabilitate the offenders. The process juvenile conferencing should provide a platform whereby victims, offenders and the community in general can actively participate in the process of repairing the harm that was subjected to them with the help of professional facilitators (Bevin & Steels et al, 2005).
The autonomy of juvenile conferences is key to its effectives. Therefore, there is need for a
significant degree of independence of juvenile conferences on the criminal justice system. However, this autonomy should not affect the funding and referrals brought across by the criminal justice systems. On the other hand, criminal justice systems should come up with a legal frame to govern and give guidelines on referrals and funding.
Further research on how juvenile conferencing can relate to the overall model of restorative justice should be conducted. Extensive research on ways of promoting effectiveness in the operations of juvinille conferencing should as well be conducted. Additionally, coordinators and facilitators of juvenile conferences should network with agencies in the criminal justice systems and other relevant fields so as to meet the standards of restorative justice systems (Goulding & Steels, 2007).Conclusions
Juvenile conferencing is one of the models of restorative justice that involves a group reconciliation process facilitated by a neutral third party and decisions are reached by consensus. This model is particularly implemented in cases revolving around child protection and other criminal activities. Juvenile conferencing may include justice conferences, family group conferencing and community conferencing. Juvenile conferencing incorporates practices geared towards conflict resolutions. Over the course of time, the concept of juvenile has been embraced in the criminal and justice systems around the world.
In reference to sentiments of authors such as, Johnstone and Van Ness in the book, Handbook of restorative justice" credible restorative justice models should empower the lives of the victims and communities who have been affected by crime. The processes should largely focus on repairing and strengthening relationships. The authors of this book further note that, mediators and decision makers in authentic restorative justice systems should promote outcomes that focus less on stigmatizing and punishing the offender. Evidently, juvenile conferencing epitomizes the overall model of an effective restorative justice system since it incorporates approaches that involve the victims, offenders and the community in general by giving them opportunities to be involved in the process of rehabilitation, restoration, healing and most importantly getting justice.
Critiques of juvenile conferencing have ardently expressed their concerns regarding the effectiveness of this model as far as restorative justice is concerned. Common critics surrounding the model of juvenile conferencing revolve around its dependency on the criminal justice systems in regard to referrals, funding, the system-oriented practitioners, and the legal frameworks. Nevertheless, these adequacies can be countered if the juvenile conferences foster a significant independence of juvenile conferences and extensive research is carried out on how practices of juvenile conferencing can be improved (Morris 2002).