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A Genealogical Analysis of the Criminal Justice System in Kenya: Rebirth of Restorative Justice for Juveniles?

By Sarah Muringa Kinyanjui

Abstract

This thesis explores restorative justice practices as a modality of intervention in juvenile crime in Kenya. To analyse current restorative justice practices, the thesis adopts the Foucauldian concept of genealogy and examines the processes through which contemporary penal practices have become acceptable. The thesis links reforms in the juvenile justice system in Kenya to the process of legal globalization and highlights the role of the ‘law and development’ discourse in this process. Identifying pitfalls intrinsic to the Westernization of Kenyan law, the thesis engages in a postcolonial critique of law and development. Inspired by Foucault’s analysis of power/knowledge, which postcolonial theory heavily relies on, the thesis examines the conditions that make the Westernization of Kenyan law possible.\ud In particular, the thesis analyzes the conditions that have made certain penal practices acceptable. Using data collected through original empirical research and existing literature on the Kenyan justice system, the thesis examines these penal practices. The research reveals that there have been attempts to incorporate restorative justice practices in the formal juvenile justice system. However, the system underutilizes these practices in favour of conventional court-based penal practices. On the other hand, restorative justice values are embraced in informal forums. Arguing that restorative justice values are compatible with the cultural ethos of communities in Kenya, this thesis examines why restorative justice practices in the formal juvenile justice system remain underutilized. The thesis identifies imprisonment as the predominant modality of punishment in Kenya and analyzes how restorative justice fits in within this context.\ud Analyzing the current underutilization of restorative justice, the thesis highlights the failure to tailor legal structures to fit the contextual realities as a major drawback to the Westernization of Kenyan law. Inspired by postcolonial theory, the thesis underscores the need for local solutions to structural challenges besetting the legal system. It further emphasizes the need for a careful analysis of the compatibility of global penal trends with the contextual realities of a country still beset by the aftermath of colonialism

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/4495

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