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Community justice versus restorative justice: contrast in family of value

Clear, Todd R.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) In, Dennis Sullivan and Larry Tifft editors, “Handbook of Restorative Justice” A Global Perspective. London and New York: Routledge. Taylor & Francis Group pp.463-471

This paper opened with a family metaphor for community justice and restorative justice. All metaphors are misleading when taken to an extreme. I chose a family metaphor because it fits the arguments I have made but also because it gives the feeling I want to convey. Restorative justice and community justice writers have been debating one another of late. This book is a tangible example of the developing debate. In general, debate is healthy for ideas, necessary for them to develop and mature into a fuller blossoming of their value. I think this is true for the debates now underway between restorative and community justice thinkers. But there is a danger in this debate. I use the family metaphor to call attention to the danger. It is this: when family members dispute one another, they can cause a rift that may be hard to repair. I fear the self-importance of some community justice writers will make it hard for restorative justice advocates to hear what is valuable in what they have to say about the needs of the communities they serve. I fear that the self-righteousness of restorative justice advocates will make it unlikely that community justice writers will take the time to learn what they need to know about the proven value of restorative justice. If we begin with the recognition that we are family, perhaps we can build this conversation as a way to grow closer. (excerpt)


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