Publication Date

2014

Degree Name

MA in Conflict Transformation

First Advisor

John Ungerleider

Abstract

This capstone research paper aims to capture the personal narratives of how participants of criminal court mediation in Brooklyn, New York actual experience the program. The program, which is facilitated by New York Peace Institute, is a cornerstone of the organization’s restorative justice program. Restorative justice has been gaining traction over the last few decades, and its application to criminal matters as an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service, is unprecedented.

The research was conducted using a mixed methodology approach, relying on the researcher’s ethnographic observations of the criminal court mediation program from August 2013 through March 2014, as well as 20 highly structured interviews that provided a great amount of qualitative data directly from mediation participants.

The findings of the interviews illustrate what mediation participants hoped to get out of mediation, whether it was to repair the relationship with the person they were in conflict with, get the criminal charges dismissed, get the criminal process over with, to speak their mind, or something else. The research reveals a divergence of motive for coming to mediation based on whether the mediation participant was the perceived victim of the crime (complaining witness), or the accused wrongdoer (defendant). Interestingly, neither group identified “dismissal of charges” as the primary motivator for coming to mediation. Instead, the victim was seeking to repair the relationship, while the defendant was seeking to speak his or her mind. The intricacies of these motives, as well as the reconciliatory progress of parties, are discussed in great detail throughout the findings and conclusion of this research paper.

Disciplines

Criminal Law | Criminal Procedure | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Dispute Resolution and Arbitration | International and Intercultural Communication | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication