Source: (2008) Justice Reflections Issue 17. Posted at M2/W2 Restorative Christian Ministries.

Our western criminal justice system has also been heavily influenced by the darker side of ancient Roman legal and military practices about which much has been written.6 I wish to focus on how Enlightenment thought has influenced our modern justice system and the implicit models of justice that seem so normal to us in our every day thinking. Ted Grimsrud and Howard Zehr, suggest that, ‘…the Enlightenment provided new objectivity in the practice of punishment.’7 These theologians have written much on peacemaking and restorative justice and suggest that the Enlightenment criminologists never questioned the efficacy of punishment, but punishment was made more legal and abstract, not addressing the actual harms experienced by the actual victims. Instead the state, the king or Queen, became the victim; currently, law enforcement still does not directly address the victims’ harm suffered, nor pay attention to the social economic factors contributing to the offenders’ actions. Those primarily affected, are not empowered to seek collective solutions. Dutch criminologist Louk Hulsman views today’s Western criminal justice as a displaced form of moral theology, a metaphysical process, displacing the real needs of the harmed community for reconciliation, depriving them of the tools to accomplish the settlement of differences at the community level. (excerpt)


Read Full Article