criminal justice • Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

New [And Improved] Title Spotlight: World Criminal Justice Systems: A Comparative Survey (9th ed.)

This time around, rather than looking at a brand new publication, I have decided to focus on the new edition of a treatise that was first published in 1984:

World Criminal Justice Systems: A Comparative Survey
Richard J. Terrill
9th edition, 2016
Law Library Reference Reading Room (Langdell 4th Floor), REF HV 7419 .T47 2016

This is not strictly a legal treatise, although much of its content will be of interest to comparative criminal law researchers. Instead, it focuses on the field of study of “criminal justice,” which according to the author encompasses several academic disciplines, including “[s]ociology, psychology, law, and public administration[.]” (Introduction, at 1)

The author makes it clear that this work facilitates the reader’s comparative analysis of the jurisdictions and legal systems surveyed, rather than providing its own. The book is targeted toward researchers with knowledge of the American criminal justice system; accordingly, the United States is not one of the featured jurisdictions. However, even non-U.S. researchers will likely find its clear, informative contents to be very valuable for introductory purposes.

For each of the jurisdictions covered (England, France, Japan, South Africa, Russia, and China), the author provides an informative overview of the government, the police, the judiciary, the law, the correctional system, and juvenile justice.  In addition, a chapter on Islamic Law was first added to the 8th edition in 2013. In this new edition, this chapter discusses the historical development of Islam and Sharia, and illustrates criminal justice principles in Islamic law countries using three “contemporary case studies” (Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey).

As the author explains in the introduction (pp. 7-9), when considering which jurisdictions to include, he focused on the evolution of their legal systems. In particular, he references “legal families”: while England represents common law; the “Romano-Germanic” tradition is represented by France as an original jurisdiction, as well as “borrowers” to varying degrees: Japan, South Africa, and the Russian Federation. The latter is also an example of a jurisdiction in the “socialist law” family, together with China. Finally, in adding the Islamic Law content, the author’s intention was not only to provide a view into criminal justice in “theocratic” societies, but also to focus on “countries [that] view the purpose and function of law in a different context from that which emerged in the West.”

In addition to its substantive content, the real value of this book to the researcher is its extensive bibliography of English-language sources, including books and scholarly articles, for each jurisdiction/legal system it covers.  Altogether, it is an excellent introductory source for legal researchers who are interested in researching any aspect of the criminal justice system in a comparative context.

New Title Spotlight: Restorative Justice and Mediation in Penal Matters

It’s been a great month for discovering new titles in our collection that will appeal to comparative law researchers! The latest title that caught my eye provides a survey of criminal justice ADR practice in 36 (36!) European countries:

Restorative Justice and Mediation in Penal Matters: A Stock-Taking of Legal Issues, Implementation Strategies and Outcomes in 36 European Countries
Frieder Dünkel, Joanna Grzywa-Holten, Philip Horsfield (eds.)
Forum Verlag Godesberg, 2015
(2 volumes)

The editors’ goal in compiling this collection was to “know what there is in Europe today in terms of [Restorative Justice] RJ in penal matters, what the driving forces have been for introducing RJ, how it has been implemented in legislation and on the ground, and what role it plays (central or peripheral) in criminal justice practice.” (p. 3)

Each country report includes an in-depth discussion of active and proposed Victim Offender Mediation (VOM) programs for both adult and juvenile offenders.

Highlights include:

Austria’s NEUSTART program includes three options: “VOM, community service, and probation assistance.”  The use of VOM has been studied there for several years and has shown interesting results, including the public prosecutor dismissing criminal charges in 78% of cases in which VOM was used. (pp. 34-35)

The laws of the Czech Republic provide several RJ-oriented options to “the full range of criminal justice stakeholders: the police, public prosecutors, Probation and Mediation Service, offenders, and victims[.]” These include VOM, conciliation (narovnání) hearings, and both “conditional discontinuance” and abandonment of criminal prosecution. (pp. 171-74)

In Finland, “[f]our structures serve the interests of the victim’ restorative needs[,]”:

  • Insurance and civil law compensation schemes
  • The state compensation system
  • Diversion in the form of non-prosecution
  • Mediation

The Finnish government has an extensive network of agencies to oversee and facilitate mediation in criminal cases, including “the Ministry of Social and Welfare Affairs…, the Advisory Board on Mediation in Criminal Cases, the mediation office, and the mediation officer in charge.” The use of mediation in Finnish criminal cases has been extensively researched, and data about mediation participants and their relative satisfaction with the mediation process is included in the report. (pp. 243-62)

Romania’s Law on Mediation and the Mediator Profession (Law No. 192/2006, published in the Official Gazette No. 441 on May 22, 2006) “regulates…the procedure and characteristics of mediation in penal matters.”  This law was amended in 2009 (Law 370/2009), “introduc[ing] the duty of justice officials to inform the parties about the availability of mediation.” The report provides an extensive explanation of the statutory requirements for the mediation process required under this law, and it also discusses the results of 2010 survey of public prosecutors and judges regarding the use and acceptance of VOM in criminal proceedings. (pp. 697-719)

The report from Ukraine features a discussion of the work done to advocate for the use of RJ in criminal proceedings by “civil society organizations,” including the Ukrainian Centre for Common Ground (UCCG). This organization first introduced a pilot program of VOM in criminal cases in Ukraine in 2003. Currently, the UCCG’s work includes providing training for mediators who offer mediation services in the 14 Community Restorative Justice Centres (CRJCs) across the country. (pp. 989-1005)

This resource provides a wealth of information for comparative research of criminal justice, ADR, and European legislation. Each report is highly readable and helpfully annotated with primary and secondary source references.  The national experts who wrote these reports have done us a real service in contributing their knowledge to these volumes. It is definitely worth a look if your interests lie in any of these areas.

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