1st Edition

Decolonising Restorative Justice A Case of Policy Reform

By Leanne Alexis Levers Copyright 2024
    202 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book critically examines the colonial dimensions of restorative justice through the lens of justice policy reform in Jamaica.

    Restorative justice is not new. Practices of restitution can be found throughout history, predominantly in non-Western traditions and religions. One of the key principles of restorative practices is contextualisation. That is, restorative practices are developed and embedded within the political, economic, and cultural context of the communities in which they are practised. Many of the countries that have gone on to develop restorative justice as part of their formal justice system have developed their policy on the model of their indigenous communities – for example, in Canada and in New Zealand. However, with the globalisation of restorative practices within the past decade, many countries have sought to ‘colonise’ restorative justice, by developing a standardised, best-practice approach. Instead of a practice that is developed and formed by its community, colonised restorative justice dictates that one size fits all. Examined through the lens of the development and implementation of restorative justice policies in Jamaica, this book argues that this Westernised approach diminishes the effectiveness of restorative justice in its capacity: to address the victim’s needs; to hold the offender accountable in a way that reintegrates them into society; and to empower the community by involving them in the provision of justice to victims. Restorative justice, then, must be decolonised –and local, indigenous practices acknowledged –if it is to achieve its aims.

    This book will be of interest to a range of scholars with interests in decolonisation, as well as alternative dispute resolution, especially those in sociolegal studies, criminology, human rights, social policy, political science, and Caribbean studies.

    Foreword by Dr. Anthony Harriott ix

    Foreword by Dr. Lloyd Barnett, OJ, PhD, LLD (Hon) xi

    Acknowledgements xiii

    1 Decolonisation and Restorative Justice 1

    What Is Restorative Justice? 4

    Decolonisation 6

    Research Questions 13

    Contributions 13

    Chapter Summaries 16

    Notes 18

    References 20

    2 Policy Transfer as a Tool of Decolonisation in the Caribbean 27

    Dolowitz and Marsh Framework 32

    Who Is Involved in Policy Transfer? 32

    What Is the Motivation to Engage in Policy Transfer? 34

    What Is Being Transferred? 35

    From Where Is Information Transferred? 35

    What Is the Degree of Transfer? 35

    What Enables or Constrains Policy Transfer? 35

    How Do These Factors Affect the Success or Failure of Policy Transfer? 36

    Globalisation and Policy Transfer as a Tool of Colonialism 38

    Justice Policy in the Caribbean 40

    Methodology 42

    Case Study Approach 43

    Triangulation 45

    Limitations of the Study 46

    Ethical Considerations 50

    Privacy 50

    Researcher Effect 53

    Conclusion 54

    Notes 55

    References 56

    3 Crime, Politics, and Justice in Jamaica 64

    Jamaican Class Structure 65

    Jamaican Politics 68

    Political Structure 68

    Political Party Competitiveness, Clientelism, and Violence 70

    Garrisons 72

    Dons 73

    Homogeneous Voting 74

    The Rise of the Don and Organised Crime 74

    Clientelism Continued: Appeasing the Elite 76

    Clientelism Continued: International Stakeholders and the

    State 78

    Donor Countries 78

    IFIs 80

    Jamaican Justice Policy 81

    Consequences of Semi-Coercive Policy Transfer 82

    A Shift Towards Opportunistic Policy Transfer 83

    Conclusion 86

    Notes 87

    References 89

    4 Decolonising Restorative Justice within a Jamaican Context 95

    The Failure of the Formal Jamaican Justice System 95

    Access to Justice 96

    Bias and Corruption 97

    Lack of Contextual Legislation 98

    Inhumane Treatment of Prisoners 99

    Dissatisfaction with the Justice System 99

    Does RJ Work? 100

    Retributive Aspects of RJ 100

    Does RJ Work in Jamaica? 102

    Is Decolonisation Possible? 102

    Imagining Decolonised RJ in Jamaica 105

    Decolonisation Framework 106

    The Roots of RJ 106

    Public Opinion 108

    The Trunk of RJ 109

    Civil Society 111

    Other Non-State Actors 114

    Dons and the Jungle Justice System 115

    Maroons Justice System 117

    The Branches of RJ 119

    The Fruit of RJ 121

    Conclusion 121

    Notes 122

    References 126

    5 A History of Restorative Justice in Jamaica 134

    History of Restorative Justice in Jamaica 134

    RJ National Policy 134

    Conclusion 149

    Notes 149

    References 151

    6 Examining the Transfer of Restorative Justice Policy in Jamaica 153

    Dolowitz and Marsh Policy Framework 153

    Who Was Involved in Policy Transfer? 154

    What Was the Motivation for Policy Transfer? 161

    Where Was the Policy Transferred From? 163

    What Was Transferred? 164

    What Was the Degree of Transfer? 166

    What Factors Constrained or Enabled Policy Transfer? 167

    What Was the Impact of Policy Transfer? 169

    Conclusion 169

    Notes 172

    References 173

    Appendix One: Document Analysis 175

    Appendix Two: Garrison Information 177

    Appendix Three: Timeline 178

    Index 184


    Leanne Alexis Levers is a political scientist who works as a strategic advocacy, communications, and policy consultant, having in-depth knowledge of justice reform, global health, gender equality and racial justice. She is also the co-founder of Dope Black Women CIC, an award-winning global platform dedicating to the empowerment of Black women.