This article emphasises the potential relevance of the principles characterising the youth criminal justice system to the criminal justice system as a whole: the former can lead the reform processes concerning the entire field of criminal law. In particular, this article explores how this process (at least, partially) has already taken place through the institution of probation, that signals the openness to a notion of criminal justice that conceives the answer to the crime as a project, rather than as compensation. This article observes that prevention depends especially on the ability of the legal system to promote free choice to adhere to normative rules: the rehabilitation of offenders significantly contributes to confirm the authority of the rule that has been breached, in accordance with the perspective of reintegration based general prevention (prevenzione generale reintegratrice). At the same time, the article underlines how restorative justice tools have enabled (for the first time) the dialogue with the offender, before conviction: in relation to both the features of the punishment and the perpetration of the crime (through penal mediation). This aspect is of fundamental importance also in relation to the offender’s need for pacification, vis-à-vis the crime.
Keywords: Restorative justice, reintegration based general prevention, (prevenzione generale reintegratrice), criminal process and dialogue, penal mediation, crime and victim.