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Restorative Justice

Restorative justice programs have not yet been institutionalized in community supervision (mainly probationary and parole supervision) or in other stages of criminal proceedings. However, a type of victim impact statement called the “victim’s feelings conveyance system (VFC)” was established in community supervision by amending the Offenders Rehabilitation Act in 2007 (Ota 2012). The Act provides that a head of a probation or parole office shall listen to the victim’s expressions of feelings and of the overall impact of the crime in question as well as the victim’s opinion on the probationer’s or parolee’s case. These emotions and thoughts should be conveyed to the probationer or parolee when the perpetrator of a criminal act applies for parole. The first 3 years after implementation, the application of VFC was limited, especially for the community supervision of serious offenders like murderers and robbers. Instead, VFC has been applied in property offense cases like theft, fraud, and embezzlement. Another important form of restorative justice, undertaken since 2005 by the National Police Agency (NPA), is “the meeting for conversation between juvenile offenders and victims (MCJ)” on “the simple referral case.” All juvenile cases shall be referred to the Family Court, but the police shall exceptionally dispose a case as a simple referral (diversion) when the case is trivial. The police may send the simple referral cases en masse to Family Court or the prosecution office in every month by special referral. The Family Court shall make a ruling of non-commencement of hearing or decide to render a ruling not to subject the juvenile to protective measures. In the meantime, the police are able to send the simple referral case to the Juvenile support center after arbitration between juvenile offenders and victims. The Juvenile support center organizes the meeting and promotes reconciliation between them (Ota 2010). In addition, “the solution of conflict centers” as an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has been put forth by the lawyers’ association; every district has additional programs related to accepting victims’ status in criminal facilities and juvenile training schools.

 
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