Alhan Yazdani

Alhan Yazdani (she/her)
Masters Student
Department of Sociology
University of Calgary

Current Research Project:

Examining Restorative Justice Supporter Dynamics: Reintegrative Possibilities, Disintegrative Risks

Alhan is interested in understanding the experiences of young offenders within restorative justice programs in comparison to traditional justice system processing. Restorative justice responses to youth crime have become central to Canada’s responses to youth crime, especially under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which is seen as a crucial alternative to the formal criminal justice system (Tomporowski et al., 2010). Restorative justice offers benefits that are argued to instill more robust cognitive transformation (i.e., a change in thinking about one’s actions in relation to a crime and the harm it caused particular parties and the wider community), and ultimately make communities safer and prevent crime (LeBel et al., 2008). Research on restorative justice, however, often neglects the important role that supporting parties (social workers, counsellors, parents/guardians, police officers, etc.) play in restorative justice mediation. As a result, Alhan’s current thesis aims to fill this gap in knowledge.

Her other areas of interest include corrections, alternative sentencing, role of specialized courts (drug courts), and recidivism (reoffending). During her honours undergrad, Alhan also completed a thesis focused on understanding the effectiveness of pet therapy programs within prisons and how such programs impact inmates’ daily lives as well as the extent that it reduced overall recidivism rates.

What motivated you to pursue this project?

Restorative justice involves youth and adults, but is arguably more prominently used with youth, given the emphasis of the Youth Criminal Justice Act on diversion and rehabilitation. It is also restorative justice sessions with youth where supporter roles are crucial to effectively administer, given that supporters are often parents and other close parties in young people’s lives. Therefore, for this research a combination of supporters such as police officers, social workers, parents as well as young offenders will be interviewed. The interviews will be based on a semi-structured format allowing comparison across interviews, but also the exploration of unique directions. Shedding light on the experiences of supporting members will help provide crucial knowledge to inform best practices going forward, and ultimately benefit all parties involved, as well as the wider community. I have always been really curious about the day-to-day experiences of inmates and especially how youth reintegrate back into the community. My interest also stems from my belief that offenders are also another group of marginalized individuals which society often tends to forget about.

What impact do you think the project will have?

My project will be beneficial for understanding the experiences of supporting members, which will help provide crucial knowledge to inform best practices going forward, and ultimately benefit all parties involved, as well as the wider community. Furthermore, it may also be beneficial for uncovering some of the needs of young offenders that are not currently being met by restorative justice programs. This can not only impact the development of future programs, but it can also provide information on what is working and what is not.

Alhan’s advice to other graduate students:

If you see your research just as a requirement that needs to be completed, you are making a mistake. Make sure you are passionate about what you do!

 

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