Source: (1994) In Jonathan Burnside and Nicola Baker, eds., Relational Justice: Repairing the Breach. Winchester: Waterside Press. Chapter 7. Downloaded 2 November 2005.

What is the prospect of public acceptance of such a model of criminal justice? Properly explained, I believe it is good, and this for a host of reasons. It is not a soft system. Facing a victim is commonly said to be far harder than facing a court. FGC plans are are often both tougher and more imaginative than court-imposed sentences. An acceptance of responsibility for one's own actions is an ideal that few would oppose. The strengthening of family and community-based relationships could not be politically unpopular. A much better deal for victims is what the public has long sought. A lesser role for the State and a greater role for local communities is consistent with reforms underway in many Western countries. There is also the prospect of fiscal savings from the reduced use of courts and prisons, although offset against this must be the cost of putting more resources into the community. The idea of negotiated justice is either accepted or gaining ground in other contexts, such as the use of mediation in family courts and in civil litigation. And finally, there is ample evidence that the public is not as vengeful as some politicians seem to think. (excerpt)


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