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. 215-225.

At the outset of this essay Carolyn Boyes-Watson asserts unequivocally a fundamental incompatibility between the state system of doing justice and the principles of restorative justice. After drawing a set of sharp contrasts between state-administered justice and restorative justice, she remarks that it is only sensible to be skeptical about state involvement in restorative justice. Nevertheless, despite the likelihood that it will undermine the ideal vision of restorative justice, Boyes-Watson states that her greatest hope for achieving restorative justice in modern democratic societies lies in growing state involvement in restorative justice. She argues for this seemingly incongruous hope on the basis of this possibility – namely, that the incompatibility between the two approaches to justice may generate a kind of creative tension allowing space for the transformation of state justice system institutions.