Rethinking Prison Disciplinary Processes: A Potential Future for Restorative Justice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Authors:
  • Michelle Butler
  • Shadd Maruna


The movement for restorative justice (RJ) has struggled with marginalization on the soft end of the criminal justice system where the threat of net widening and iatrogenesis looms large. To realize the full potential of RJ as an alternative philosophy of justice, restorative practices need to expand beyond the world of adolescent and small-level offenses into the deeper end of the justice system. Disciplinary hearings inside of adult prisons may be a strategic space to advance this expansion. This article presents findings from a study of prison discipline in four U.K. prisons. The findings strongly suggest that in their current form such disciplinary proceedings are viewed by prisoners as lacking in legitimacy. Although modeled after the adversarial system of the criminal court, the adjudications were instead universally derided as “kangaroo courts” lacking the basic elements of procedural justice. Based on these findings, we argue that RJ interventions may offer a viable redress to these problems of legitimacy which, if successful, would have ramifications that extend well beyond the prison walls.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-148
Number of pages23
JournalVictims and Offenders
Issue number1
Early online date30 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2016