Ongoing studies on victim- offender mediation in Finland: An overview

Aino Jauhiainen. Photo: Joel Grandell

By Aino Jauhiainen

Finland has a rich history of victim- offender mediation. Initiated in 1983 and applied into criminal justice legislation in 2005, this restorative justice practice currently receives around 13 000 criminal cases per year. The ensemble of previous research on this topic is large, containing studies on moral emotions, youth delinquency, intimate partner violence as well as mixed methods-based impact assessments (Elonheimo, 2010). While the previous studies show that participants of VOM are mostly satisfied with mediation, more studies are needed on victim’s perceptions of IPV, as well as mediation’s effects on recidivism (Mielityinen, 1999; Iivari, 2010; Honkatukia, 2015 ). At the time of writing, some of these research gaps are being filled!

Always keen on sharing exciting news, I present a short summary of three ongoing studies on victim- offender mediation in Finland. I have freely translated all research topics from Finnish to English.

Mediation in cases of domestic violence- participant perceptions on the process and its outcomes (2021-2022)

This study focuses on filling the gap on mediation in cases of domestic violence. Using register-based data and participant interviews, the study examines mediation participant’s perceptions of the mediation process and its influence on their lives. The study provides both explorative analyses on what kinds of cases are mediated. It also studies the possible impact of mediation on violence reduction. The project is financed by the government. It is led by Riikka Shemeikka and Farid Ramadan.

Interaction in mediation and distribution of agency (2021-2024)

This research analyses mediation in criminal cases and disputes from a discourse and agency framework (Goodwin, 2017). Examining face-to face mediation encounters, the research explores how conversation is established and constructed between the mediator and parties involved. The study looks at how especially the mediator facilitates and influences the social actions connected to moving forward within mediation dialog, interconnecting the involved parties as spokespersons in conflict resolution. Data used in this study consists of video-recordings on mediation sessions in both remote and live encounters. The analysis draws from conversation analysis and interactional linguistics. The project is led by Katariina Harjunpää and founded by the Kone foundation.

The interrelation of victim offender mediation and the criminal justice system (2021-2025)

Last, but not least, I present my own dissertation project. The aim of this dissertation is to outline the procedure, decision making and outcome of victim- offender mediation cases within the criminal procedures. The dissertation draws on both qualitative and quantitative data. Based on 17 semi-structured expert interviews with the police and prosecutors, I first explore the discretion of the police and prosecutors involved when making decisions on VOM cases. Thematic analysis is applied to the data. Drawing from a selection of criminal cases registered by the police in 2019, I thereafter provide a statistical overview and analysis of the judicial outcome of mediated criminal cases. I focus on description, association and prediction of the cases and their outcome. The dissertation is financed by the Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy. The research is led by me and my supervisor Kati Rantala.

Aino Jauhiainen currently works as a PhD student at Institute of Criminology & Legal Policy at the University of Helsinki. Her dissertation explores the interrelation of victim- offender mediation and criminal justice system.
Twitter: aino_jauhiainen