Source: (2005) Summary of paper presented at an Ancillary Restorative Justice Session, Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, April 20, Bangkok, Thailand. Downloaded 14 October 2005.

Some justice systems are not broken or flawed, but are rather working precisely the way they were designed to work against marginalized human beings, including the poor, people of color and the mentally impaired. Crime prevention and criminal justice programs are sometimes created by intellectually dishonest civil and political campaigns that falsely promise safety and well being when enacting tough laws and applying severe sentences. Victims of crime and accused offenders, even when provided with guarantees to due process and equal protection, are too often pawns in a highly discretionary legal process. Principles of criminal justice and human rights collide as adversarial systems seek retribution. While the criminal justice system focuses on broken laws, who is guilty and how the guilty should be punished, the UN is in the embryonic stages of embracing a restorative justice paradigm that focuses on broken relationships, who is in need and how well being and social harmony may be restored. Restorative justice practices acknowledge who is hurting, why stakeholders are suffering and what harms must be addressed to restore impaired dignity. With accountability, equity and integrity, restorative justice is a justice that heals relationships ravaged by conflict, violence, hatred and greed. Finally, restorative justice, and not just justice designed to punish, is being recognized as an emerging human right for victims, offenders and the community. The basis of this acknowledgement can be found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.(excerpt)


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