Martin Wright

Martin Wright is a Founding Member of Lambeth Mediation Service and is one of the UK’s leading experts in Restorative Justice. As a former Joint Vice-Chair of the Restorative Justice Council, in 2021 he was awarded with their Significant Contribution Award for his lifelong efforts in mediation, restorative justice and conflict resolution practice. He has also been librarian at the Institute of Criminology (University of Cambridge), Director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, and Policy Officer for Victim Support. He was a founder member of the European Forum Restorative Justice and a member of the board until 2006. He is the author of “Restoring Respect for Justice”, regularly writes articles and is widely quoted in the press. A selection of the articles and books that Martin has written on Restorative Justice are listed below.

 Books

Making Good: Prisons, Punishment and Beyond. London: Burnett Books, 1982. Prisons, ways of reducing their use and a policy based on prevention and reparation.

Mediation and Criminal Justice: Victims, Offenders and Community. London: Sage, 1989. (Jt. ed. with Burt Galaway.) Collection of articles on victim/offender mediation in several countries; principles; and research findings, including a survey of public opinion polls on attitudes to reparation.

Justice for Victims and Offenders: a Restorative Response to Crime. Winchester: Waterside Press, 2nd ed. 1996. Reviews the development of reparation and of mediation, leading to victim/offender mediation; with suggested guidelines for a system based on restorative justice. With a short survey of victim/offender mediation in 15 countries, and an outline of family group conferencing.

Restoring Respect for Justice. Winchester: Waterside Press, 1999. Records a “symposium” at which a range of presenters (all Fictitious: The Politician, The Psychologist, The Probation Officer, The Victim Assistance Worker, The Philosopher and the Mediator) each discuss crime, its effects on victims and the dogma which keeps criminal justice steeped in the past and prevents it from making the kind of progress seen in relation to many aspects of modern life.

Contributions to Books

“Victim/offender mediation as a step towards a restorative system of justice.” In: Restorative justice on trial: pitfalls and potentials of victim/offender mediation – international research perspectives, ed. by H Messmer and H-U Otto. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1992.

After reviewing some of the flaws in the existing system of justice based on retribution and rehabilitation, the paper proposes that society’s response to crime should have a single primary aim, and that this should be to restore the harm done to the victim or to the community. It is argued that restorative justice, combined with a strategy for crime reduction, would meet the aims of the traditional system while avoiding many of the harmful side-effects of punishment. Some practical and theoretical aspects of introducing restorative justice into the existing system are considered, together with the need for feedback and evaluation.

“Victims, offenders and restorative justice.” In: Victim & offender mediation handbook, ed. by D Quill and J Wynne. (West Yorkshire Probation Service and Save the Children.) Bristol: MEDIATION UK.

Considers questions affecting the operation of a mediation service, such as independence from statuatory bodies, and constraints on the voluntariness of participation. The importance of procedure and standards is also stressed.

“Victims: towards a re-orientation of justice.” (With Helen Reeves.) In: Probation: working for justice, ed. by D Ward and M Lacey. London: Whiting and Birch, 1995.

A short outline of the development of Victim Support in the United Kingdom, and its relationship to the criminal justice system, especially the courts. It is suggested that victim/offender mediation is an aspect of victims’ needs which should be included in a victim-oriented system.

“Can mediation be an alternative to criminal justice?” In: Restorative justice: international perspectives, ed. by B Galaway and J Hudson. Monsey, NY: Criminal Justice Press and Amsterdam: Kugler (1996).

Attempts have been made to resolve the intractable problems of criminal justice systems by including the victim in the process, for example through victim impact statements, but that adds yet another source of sentencing inconsistency. Many people, including victims, are attracted by moves towards adopting a new fundamental principle, restorative justice. But is there a danger that it will lead to pressure on victims to take part, infringe defendants’ right to due process, or result in inconsistencies between outcomes? Can restorative justice operate effectively alongside the traditional system, or even replace it? As with the traditional system, there is no clear way of resolving all the competing requirements. It is better to think not of alternatives but of a continuum, and to work to move the centre of gravity from the repressive towards the restorative.

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