Source: (2004) In, Howard Zehr and Barb Toews, eds., Critical Issues in Restorative Justice. Monsey, New York and Cullompton, Devon, UK: Criminal Justice Press and Willan Publishing. Pp. 5-15.

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.