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Adriaan Lanni, Meeting the Challenges of Scaling Up Restorative Justice in the United States, in Restorative Justice at a Crossroads: Dilemmas of Institutionalization (Giuseppe Maglione, Ian D. Marder & Brunilda Pali eds., 2024).

Abstract: This chapter discusses the practical challenges to scaling up restorative justice in the United States. Existing restorative justice programmes handle only a tiny fraction of the criminal docket. The chapter focuses on two related problems – the need to recruit enough facilitators to handle the increased caseload, and the difficulty of avoiding bureaucratisation and centralisation. It seems unlikely (and probably impossible) for programmes to meet the increased demand without abandoning a volunteer model and becoming dependent on state funding. Yet any shift towards professionalisation would appear to threaten the central premise of restorative justice, which is to return control over conflicts to stakeholders and local communities. I argue that this is a false choice. This chapter argues that recruiting part-time paid facilitators from the local community would improve restorative justice programming by making facilitators more representative and responsive to the local community. Using community-centred public defender services as a model, this chapter also argues that community-based programmes can accept state funding without sacrificing independence, flexibility and local responsiveness. Those designing restorative justice programmes should focus on safeguarding the core restorative justice principles of stakeholder control and informal, flexible and locally responsive processes rather than resisting all forms of professionalisation and institutionalisation.