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Abolitionist tendencies and victims’ needs in RJ (abstract).

Pemberton, Antony
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Papers presented at the Third Conference of the European Forum for Victim-Offender Mediation and Restorative Justice, ‘Restorative Justice in Europe: Where are we heading?’, Budapest, Hungary, 14-16 October. Downloaded 22 September 2005.

Three motives are central to RJ. First there is the abolitionist motive. RJ is seen by many as a possible
replacement of the criminal justice system. Howard Zehr’s paradigm shift and the differences between as he
describes them vertical justice and new, horizontal justice is a prime example, as well as the redefinition of crime
as a conflict between individuals in Christie’s classic ‘Conflicts as property’. Second there is the victimological
motive, in the sense that RJ should focus on repairing the damage and the suffering the crime may have caused
the victim. The third motive concerns the offender. RJ is proposed to have a crime prevention effect and to be a
more humane way of dealing with crimes.
The three motives are mostly ‘sold’ as a package deal. Most RJ procedures and the restorative paradigm are
defended on the grounds that they are better than criminal justice procedures (the abolitionist motive) in
concern to meeting the needs of victims (the victimological motive) and offenders, and contribute to crime
prevention (the offender/crime prevention motive). However, the necessity of this package of motives is not
unproblematic. The European Forum for Victim Services and myself have argued elsewhere that the
victimological motive and the offender focused motives may clash if proper safeguards are not implemented.
But the marriage of abolitionist perspective and the victimological motive within RJ is not without its problems
eithers. This is the subject of the paper. The presenter proposes to address a number of issues that merit a more
critical approach of the relationship between abolitionist tendencies and victims’ needs in RJ, which in turn can
influence the way RJ is implemented. Author’s abstract.


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