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Distinguishing Restorative Justice

An approach used by many writers has been to contrast restorative justice from what is presented as conventional criminal justice (referred to as retribution, traditional criminal justice, or in other ways).

I’m not into remorse
by Lynette Parker Lots of people will ask me about offenders feeling remorse when they go through a restorative conference. Trainee facilitators will ask whether or not I thought a client showed remorse during a pre-conference. People curious about the process will ask if those who have committed crime actually show remorse. The most difficult conversations occur when I talk to a victim of crime about participating. They may ask if the offender has shown remorse in my meetings with him/her.
John Braithwaite video introduction to restorative justice
John Braithwaite is a leader in restorative justice (and in many other fields). He teaches at Australian National University which has now posted an 18 minute video in which he explains the basic theories and applications of restorative justice. It is well done, and is presented in segments, which means it can be used in whole or in part.
John Howard Society of Alberta. Restorative Justice
In this report, the John Howard Society of Alberta argues that restorative justice offers an alternative to Canada's current punitive justice system, which is unable to reduce crime rates and which manifests a lack of concern for crime victims. The restorative justice process involves the offender, the victim and the community in negotiations and dialogue aimed at restitution, reconciliation and restoration of harmony. Canada's current justice system, relying heavily on incarceration and punishment, does not rehabilitate offenders, deter others, or compensate victims. Restorative justice models lower costs associated with incarceration, provide the victim with a sense that justice was served, provide the offender with the feeling that the legal process has treated him or her fairly, address victim-offender relations, and make the community aware that it has a responsibility to the offender, victim, and justice system.
Johnstone, Gerry. How, and in What Terms, Should Restorative Justice be Conceived?
What is restorative justice? This is the question Gerry Johnstone asks at the beginning of his chapter in Critical Issues in Restorative Justice. Proponents advance a variety of ideas about the nature, scope, and aims of restorative justice. Most advocates construe it as an innovative way to understand and respond to crime, delinquency, and perhaps bullying. Some, however, sketch out a much more ambitious significance for the theory and application of restorative justice in society at large. To answer the question of what restorative justice is, Johnstone suggests that it is better to seek first what it is in the arena of criminal justice. Following this it may be possible to pursue the meaning of restorative justice in the wider sphere of society in general. With all of this in mind, Johnstone examines different perspectives on the nature of restorative justice even within the narrower scope of criminal justice. Then he discusses the question whether restorative justice is basically an alternative approach within criminal justice or is more broadly and perhaps more fundamentally an alternative life ethos.
Joseph, Christina. Philosophical, Religious and Contemporary ideas in the evolution of Justice
Christina Joseph prepared this document as a briefing paper for participants in a dialogue hosted by the Asia-Europe Foundation in 2004. As the title indicates, she surveys philosophical, religious, and contemporary ideas that cluster over time around the concept and pursuit of justice. She begins with an introduction to the concept of justice. This leads to a summary of major philosophical treatments of justice from Plato to Rawls. Joseph looks next at religious conceptions of justice in Confucianism, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity, and Islam. Turning then to contemporary ideas about justice, she sketches the main systems of law in the world today, as well as current debates on social organization and justice. With emphasis on restorative justice, crime and social control, police and community, and global changes, Joseph concludes with a discussion of contemporary influences and future developments in the implementation of justice.
Just what does restorative justice restore?
from the entry by TheJusticeofthePeace: Whenever a country is governed in a manner at odds with the rule of law even if its government has been honestly or dishonestly elected inevitably the word[s] used to describe it is police state. This is no idle figure of speech. The phrase tells it as it is. Police as the civilian arm of law and order provide the trigger finger of a government when force is required. There is virtually nothing which more disturbs the democratic underbelly of a country like ours as the use perceived or actual of excessive or unlawful force by police. The G20 demonstration and its aftermath were proof if proof were needed. The bussing in of massive numbers of police during the miners` strike of 1984/5 is to this day a rallying cry for militant socialism. The authority of the legal process as understood by the majority law abiding population has been fatally undermined eg by the blatant and admitted use of speed cameras as revenue raisers as compared to their proponents vain and repeated assertions of their primary function as essential requirements for road safety. CCTV cameras being employed for all manner of dubious purposes to the detriment of individual privacy far in excess of their sometimes dubious assistance in deterring criminal activity are another example of judge, jury and sentence by rote. All this can be encapsulated by the wide ranging powers of apprehension, judgement and sentence represented by the use of tens of thousands poorly educated, poorly paid and often poorly trained uniformed individuals to police our towns and cities where once upon a time a real police officer did the job usually with good humour, honesty and a great deal of tact when the culprit was obviously committing a minor misdemeanour and not by any stretch of the imagination a criminal offence by any other term.
Kaptein, Hendrik and Malsch, Marijke. Crime, Victims, and Justice. Essays on Principles and Practice
This collection of essays has its origins in a conference called "Restorative Justice: Criminal Justice for Victims?" The conference was held in Amsterdam on 1 December 2000. Representing various fields - including law, psychiatry, philosophy, and the social sciences - the speakers at the conference were prominent scholars from Canada, the United Kingdom, and The Netherlands. This book contains updated editions of key papers from the conference, along with additional essays written specifically for inclusion in this volume. The central topics of the conference and the book are restorative justice, its relationships to current criminal justice systems, and its possible benefits for victims and offenders. More specifically, essays deal with a number of issues concerning victims of crime, issues such as victims' rights and needs, satisfaction for victims, compensation for victims, open justice, and punishment and retribution in relation to reparation. The contributors span a range from strong proponents of restorative justice to those who find the introduction of restorative justice into criminal justice processes problematical in significant ways.
Mantle, Greg and Fox, Darrell and Dhami, Mandeep K. Restorative Justice and Three Individual Theories of Crime
The conceptual relationship between restorative justice and punishment has already attracted a great deal of attention in the literature. A similarly rich body of work has considered the two main aims of punishment, retributivism and reductivism, in relation to criminological theories. It is surprising, therefore, that relatively little (direct) attention has been paid to the relation between restorative justice and theories of crime. This paper first reviews the concept of restorative justice, and then examines the affinities and tensions between restorative justice and three 'individual' criminological theories: classicism, individual positivism, and 'law and order' conservatism. These theories have been selected because of their significance in the development of present criminal justice policies. Author's abstract.
McAlinden, Anne-Marie. ‘Transforming justice’: challenges for restorative justice in an era of punishment-based corrections.
Scholars of restorative justice have long debated its theoretical relationship with formal criminal justice. This analysis critically examines the range of socio-structural conditions in contemporary society that have halted the spread of restorative policies in practice and prevented them from realizing their transformative potential as an alternative system of justice. These factors are attributed largely to a punitive penal culture that is characterized by policy-making based on penal populism, the governance of risk and a managerialist criminal justice agenda; and the widespread co-optation of restorative programs by the state. This broad argument is explored in the context of two particular case studies – recent developments in youth justice and in sexual offending respectively in England and Wales and elsewhere. This examination ultimately highlights challenges for restorative justice in the current risk-driven penal climate and advocates a need to re-evaluate its relationship with formal state justice. (author's abstract)
McCold, Paul. "Primary restorative justice practices."
According to McCold, restorative justice processes should involve victims and offenders in face-to-face meetings where the victim and the offender, along with their respective “communities of care,â€? determine how to deal with the offense. He contends, moreover, that currently only three processes or practices fully meet these requirements: mediation; conferencing; and circles. In support of his perspective, McCold describes these practices and presents key examples. With respect to mediation, he reviews community mediation, victim offender reconciliation programs, and victim offender mediation. The discussion of conferencing includes youth justice family group conferencing and community conferencing. His examination of circles covers Navajo justice, sentencing circles, and healing circles.
McCold, Paul. Toward a Mid-Range Theory of Restorative Criminal Justice
According to Paul McCold, the practice of restorative justice is older than state justice, yet only recently has restorative justice been articulated theoretically. However, after more than two decades of theorizing by many people, there is little agreement about what restorative justice is and what it is not. Hence, restorative justice has come to mean so many things that it is difficult to say what exactly it does mean in theory and practice. McCold steps into this confusion and offers a “puristâ€? model of restorative justice to clarify the principles of restorative justice. By “puristâ€? he asserts a model that has only elements of the restorative justice paradigm and no elements of the “obedienceâ€? (retributive/deterrent) or treatment paradigms. On this basis, he then develops a mid-range theory of restorative justice. By “mid-rangeâ€? he attempts a theory that does not explain all behavior but rather enough to encompass crime and wrongdoing and social responses to it. This leads to an analysis of stakeholders with respect to evaluation of the restorativeness of different models, and a typology to identify a continuum of practices from the partly to the fully restorative.
McDonough, Ian. Conceptual Clarity and its Impact on RJ Policies
This workshop showed how different concepts and models of intervention are easily confused by policy makers and practitioners. We will argue that confusion between Restorative Justice and Mediation is commonplace and can have unjust and inappropriate results. We are concerned to make sure both Restorative Practitioners and Mediators are clear about the purpose of their intervention in situations which involve conflict. Many practitioners still consider the terms "restorative justice" and "mediation" to be synonymous or interchangeable. In this workshop, we will argue that there are good theoretical and practical reasons to question this assumption, and that a clear understanding of the differences between Restorative Justice and Mediation is essential for those who are evaluating, funding or commissioning work in this field. Above all, clarity is critical for practitioners, as confusion between the two processes could potentially harm those with whom they are working. This is particularly important in schools where children and young people can be involved both as participants in the process and as facilitators (i.e. peer mediators). (excerpt)
Mika, Harry and Zehr, Howard. A Restorative Framework for Community Justice Practice
Restorative justice has grown significantly in the past twenty years. Programs that use restorative justice perspectives and values are quite diverse in nature and wide-ranging around the world. Some are state-controlled and annexed to the formal justice system; others are community-based and comparatively independent of formal justice structures; many consist of a mixed model. Given all of this, restorative justice faces a number of risks: vague and careless use of the term to cover so many things that it becomes a meaningless term; subversion of restorative justice practices and aims within punitive or retributive perspectives, systems, and goals; and more. In this context, Mika and Zehr assert the need for clear articulation of the principles and values of restorative justice if it is to stay true to its vision and potential. They further contend that new measures must be developed to gauge the authenticity and impact of restorative justice. All of this requires dialogue and collaboration among victims, offenders, communities, and justice processionals. Hence, they seek to identify fundamental principles of restorative justice and to explore their implications for such critical dialogue.
More on the meme, restorative justice and social media
from Kris Miner's entry on Restorative Justice and Circles: Meme: Memes are contagious patterns of cultural information that are passed from mind to mind and that directly shape and generate key actions and mindsets of a social group. Memes include popular tunes, catch-phrases, clothing fashions, architectural styles, ways of doing things, and so on.
Muhly, Ernest J.P. Transformative or restorative justice
Ernest J. P. Muhly begins this essay posing the question of the meaning of justice, restorative justice, and transformative justice. The answer, of course, depends in part on whether one is a victim, offender, or justice professional. At the same time, remarks Muhly, it is clear that a judicial process focused on punishment is quite different than one focused on dealing with healing of harm and relationships. Restorative justice emphasizes the need to deal with harm and relationships. Transformative justice encompasses the principles and practices of restorative justice. Additionally, it goes beyond to emphasize justice as an ongoing process, and it challenges many of the fundamental paradigms of the current economic, environmental, political, judicial, and social systems.
O'Connell, Terry. Restorative justice for police: Foundations for change
O’Connell argues that current criminal justice systems do not work and that they must fundamentally change, with restorative justice providing the best hope.
O'Scannlain, Diarmuid F. Foreword
This article consists of a foreword by Diarmuid O'Scannlain, a circuit judge in the United States Court of Appeals, to this issue of the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy. The issue presents papers from a wide-ranging symposium on criminal punishment, the topics spanning moral and philosophical theories of criminal liability to empirical analysis of deterrence and recidivism. Some of the specific papers, among others, cover Biblical perspectives on guilt and shame and punishment, Aquinas on capital punishment, white collar crime, morals legislation, juvenile offenders and criminal justice systems, and restorative justice. In his foreword, O'Scannlain sketches key ideas from the various papers.
Obold-Eshleman, Christa. Victims' Rights and the Danger of Domestication of the Restorative Justice Paradigm
Victims’ rights laws and restorative justice theory appear to converge in their mutual concern for reforming criminal justice to include the people most affected by a crime. However, asks Christa Obold-Eshleman, are victims’ rights laws truly compatible with restorative justice? She contends that the answer is complex and highly dependent on one’s view of the essence of restorative justice. Hence, Obold-Eshleman cautions those interested in the restorative justice model. She argues that a shift in the underlying theory of rights is necessary to arrive at a restorative conception of victims’ rights. To make her case, she first examines the basic ideas and philosophies of restorative justice. This leads to a discussion of the main concepts and provisions in victims’ rights laws. After analyzing victims’ rights concepts in the context of a restorative justice paradigm, she identifies points where proponents of restorative justice should embrace victims’ rights, and areas where restorative justice advocates should exercise more caution with respect to the formalization of victims’ rights.
Polk, Kenneth. Family Conferencing: Theoretical and Evaluative Questions
This paper discusses the recent juvenile justice diversion schemes involving family group conferences in New Zealand and Australia from their theoretical perspective and how they compare with previous juvenile justice reform efforts. Developmental and coercive justice institutional responses are compared and their limitations are presented. Polk distinguishes between integrative and reintegrative strategies, and calls for development of both approaches. It is suggested that FGCs are limited to the latter and describes the failure to involve primary institutions. Questions of the effectiveness of FGCs are raised.
Post-adversarial and post-inquisitorial justice: Transcending traditional penological paradigms
from the paper by Arie Freiberg Restorative justice in Europe faces many of the same challenges as it does in the common law jurisdictions. Despite its influence and popularity in academic circles, it is still of marginal importance in practice and deals with relatively few cases.

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