Source: (2005) Antwerp; Oxford: Intersentia.

The last decade has seen an upsurge of academic interest among lawyers, criminologists and philosophers in restorative justice programmes and practices. What these programmes are precisely aiming at is far from clear, and depends largely on the shape they take and the role they actually play within, or in the margins of the criminal justice system. What these programmes should aim at is even more unclear. The problem here is that restorative justice favours a multiplicity of vaguely formulated goals without specifying how they can consistently be related to each other and whether some need to be prioritized about others. Critics take the unclear status of restorative justice practices as a clear invitation to fundamental questioning of the legitimacy of these practices. Supporters consider the experiment of restorative justice as a platform for questioning criminal punishment and for rethinking the legitimacy of orthodox legal reasoning. To what extent are fundamental rights and principles of the rule of law sufficiently reflected in the practices of restorative justice? How are these practices to be related to the criminal justice system according to the normative aspirations of a democratic constitutional state? To what degree can current penal practices be made continuous with these aspirations? These fundamental questions formed the framework for the 10th Aquinas Conference on ‘Punishment, Restorative Justice, and the Morality of law’, the proceedings of which are published in this book. (publisher’s abstract)