Essay restorative justice


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Restorative justice is a holistic philosophy and a concept as it encompasses the offender, the victim and the society in which the offence was committed. It aims to bring a conclusive end to the offence committed by making some type of reparations for the malice inflicted, the hurt caused and the deepening of the urge to re-offend. Restorative justice, although a part of the criminal justice process, is not a part of the criminal justice system as one of its goals it to alleviate the damage caused by the criminal justice system on the offender and the victim. Mier , attempts to define restorative justice without any reference to two of the circles namely the victim and society.

One of the major consequences of restorative justice is the healing or closure for the victim of the offence. The victims feel comfortable and are able to reintegrate themselves into society as a productive member Umbriet, ; Marshall ; Graef, Linda Radzik argues that restorative justice focuses heavily on the ability of the offender to take positive restorative action Graef, , she continues to point out that in all cases in order for this action to be fully restorative it must be sincere and voluntary Umbreit ; Menkle-Medow, It must also be offered for the right reasons and must also be married with other sincere and voluntary efforts on the part of the offender, such as a change in behaviour Radzik, Radzik also goes on to outline the necessary steps the offender needs to complete in order to be considered reformed under the restorative justice concept.

Within this system the offender is treated for the offence, this treatment may be for the psychological, psychiatric or other underlying problem which is underlying the offence committed and may not be limited to traditional medicated treatments but may take the form of counselling, examination of self and emotions and understanding the impact of their actions Umbriet, ; Graef, ; Radzik, ; Schiff, ; Menkle-Medow, Sutton states that the restorative justice process provides a concrete manner in which offenders can confront their own behaviour and the damage it causes.

He goes on to say that the object is not to punish the offender of the prisoner but to show how they can become a part of the community — even a prison community. In order for restorative justice to work and healing to take place, the offender must take responsibility for their own actions and the effect on those impacted Graef, Walgrave p. The following excerpt sums up the result of the act of taking responsibility by the offender:.

For the offender, this means taking responsibility for what happened, but doing so in a context in which he or she is reassured that he or she need to be defined by that action now ostracized forever by family, friends and community. In many instances there are reports of the family of offenders having to hide from the public or even move to other countries, states and deny any relationship with the offender because the public is willing to take their revenge on the family if they cannot have the offender Tudor, pp , Shame is a powerful emotion.

Restorative Justice

Some have suggested that restorative justice allows offenders to experience and then remove a sense of shame for their behavior. These articles discuss the usefulness or destructiveness of including shame as a part of restorative justice theory and practice.

Is there a role for punishment in restorative justice? And if so, how is it different from punishment as we use it now? While South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission has received significant attention, it was neither the first nor the last Truth Commission appointed.

Retributive Justice Or Restorative Justice

This section organizes articles on the topic by country. Restorative justice underscores the need for victims' harms to be repaired to the extent possible.


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Compensation and restitution are two ways this may be done. Restitution is paid by the offender, while compensation is paid by the government. These are articles on compensation and the issues it raises. Explore Paper Topics on Restorative Justice. Aboriginal Traditions Restorative justice draws from aboriginal teachings, and yet there may be tension between the two. Biblical Justice The Bible was a source of inspiration for many who constructed the institutions of contemporary criminal justice.

Child Protection While unhealthy dynamics and violent behaviors in families lead to the intervention of government officials to protect children, these same families often have resources and knowledge needed to break the cycles of negative behaviors. Community Justice An initiative to build ties between communities and the criminal justice system in order to prevent crime, repair harm and build communities.

Defense Lawyers The role lawyers should play in restorative justice programmes is an provocative and complex issue. Domestic Violence Domestic violence presents unique challenges and opportunities to restorative justice practitioners. Driving While Intoxicated The consequences of driving while intoxicated can be profound and devastating, and yet the culpability of the driver is related to the decision to drive while impaired -- the harm caused was not the result of a deliberate attempt to cause harm.

Due Process Criminal defendants -- and victims -- have fundamental human rights that must be respected in any state-sanctioned proceeding. Elder Abuse Elder abuse usually takes place where the victim lives. Environmental Crimes Environmental crime harms communities and the people living in them in multiple ways. Gangs Gangs pose a special challenge to communities and to law enforcement because of the power they are able to exert over the lives of people within their communities.

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Hate Crime Hate crimes are directed at victims because of their affiliation with a group against which the offenders have chosen to take action. Homicide Perhaps surprisingly, restorative justice has been used extensively between murderers and the survivors of those they killed.

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Minorities The over-representation of minorities in the criminal justice system is a well-known and apparently intractable problem. Neighborhood Disputes Restorative processes provide an opportunity for neighbors to develop their own solutions to their conflicts while building more understanding and stronger relationships. Police and Aboriginal Populations When police use restorative interventions, the strength of their relationships with the community is a key factor in how restorative the experience actually is for the participants.

Police Complaints Police complaints boards are using restorative processes to resolve community complaints against officers. Politics Any institution must have political support or it will erode or disappear. The name "restorative justice" is, perhaps, a bit misleading in some cases, since not all victims and offenders had a relationship or desire to continue having a relationship, if one did exist.

Also, in some cases, there is no way to undo the damage caused by the crime. Of course, the same can be said for retributive justice , which does not even attempt to provide for the needs of the victim, other than any hankering after vengeance that he might have. Indeed, retributive justice systems put such a high value of exacting revenge that they do not even show any compunction about compounding the harm to victims, and victimizing third parties, by forcing the productive members of society to pay for the criminal's incarceration, and cutting off all avenues by which the criminal might make a contribution to society, including by paying the victim restitution.

Restorative justice typically involves some form of victim-offender mediation , sometimes preceded by a victim impact program if the offender is deemed to need preparation to participate productively in the mediation. The process requires that the offender admit to his crime; if he denies it, the case is typically deemed unsuitable for restorative justice.

Also, if the offender admits to his crime but feels that he had a right to do it, the usefulness of the mediation tends to be limited to coming to an agreement on restitution and perhaps helping to sensitize the offender to the consequences of what he did by letting him hear the victim's story. The victim may appreciate the chance to be heard, even if. In some jurisdictions, a bastardized form of restorative justice exists in which the system is used to handle victimless crimes. In such cases, a defendant is either assigned against his will to play the role of victim, or a representative of the government serves as the victim.

Restorative Justice

For example, if two boys get in a consensual fight, they may be both charged with disorderly conduct and held to be both victims and offenders of each other, even if they would both prefer that the case simply be dismissed. Or if a teenager is caught with a cannabis joint, the police officer who caught him may play the role of victim at the mediation, with some sort of community service probably being the penalty. To the extent that such crimes do infringe on anyone else's rights such as, in the case of the fighting boys, the right of people not to have a disturbance in their neighborhood , it would be appropriate for those actual victim, or his designee, to attend the mediation, not whatever stand-in the government was able to get to attend in his place.

Such practices are not much better than the system that currently predominates, in which politically-appointed or elected prosecutors, supposedly representing the public, make deals with defendants about how much restitution, fines, or community service they should provide in order to avoid prison time, and the defendant is expected especially in federal cases to stand up in court and apologize to society at large for his offense.

These types of cases tend to tarnish the reputation and effectiveness of restorative justice by mixing in with the true offenders those who are in fact victims of unwarranted government meddling in their personal affairs. These put-upon defendants and their families often have a tendency to be sullen, uncooperative and resentful, which typically has a negative effect on classes in which they interact with defendants who really did commit a serious crime. The whole point of the classes is to expose "thinking errors" on the part of the defendants, such as blame shifting , minimizing , entitlement , justifying , and so on.

Ideally, these concepts should be interpreted in accordance with a libertarian view of rights, rather than a legal positivist view. If some of the defendants in the class have a legitimate complaint about how they have been treated, and accordingly deny that their objections constitute a thinking error, it distracts from the process of exposing true cognitive distortions. Even if such defendants do not raise a complaint, others who hear them discuss their cases can draw their own conclusions about the system's lack of fairness.

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