(1999) JLP 44: 105-126
Navajo Nation Courts, Peacemaking and Restorative Justice
Marianne O. Nielsen
The basic principles of Navajo peacemaking predate Euro-based restorative justice models and programs. Because Peacemaking is the result of different cultural processes from those on which Euro-based programs are based, many of the issues that cause concern about Euro-based restorative justice have already been resolved for Peacemaking. Some of these resolutions may be useful to Euro-based programs; some may not because of their rootedness in Navajo culture. Ten issues are discussed: the relationship between retributive and restorative systems; victim perceptions of justice; offender perceptions of justice; due process; community perceptions of justice; antagonism from criminal justice personnel; lack of program resources; program effectiveness in reducing incarceration and recidivism; mediator skills; and expanding clientele to include organizations, repeat offenders and violent offenders. Of these, only three issues - lack of resources, community perceptions of justice, and antagonism from criminal justice personnel - are relevant to both Peacemaking and Euro-based restorative programs. Peacemaking has developed solutions to the other issues. Of these solutions, the use of victim and offender support groups, and the use of consensus to deal with victim and offender concerns, have definite potential use in relation to the Euro-based programs. The other resolutions will have to be considered on a one by one basis.