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Compulsory Compassion: A Critique of Restorative Justice

Acorn, Annalise
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Vancouver, British Columbia: UBC Press.

At first, writes Annalise Acorn, restorative justice ideas and practices appealed greatly to her. She had deep misgivings about criminal justice as commonly conceived and applied; especially, as she puts it, with criminal justice as a ‘conflation of justice with punishment as imprisonment – or as any pure infliction of suffering on the wrongdoer.’ Restorative justice seemed so much more right and worthy as an approach to wrongdoing and injustice. Eventually, however, doubts about restorative justice began to chip away at her initially positive assessment. Her growing skepticism came from several sources, including reflection on her own personal experience, her sense of moral intuition, discomfort with what she perceived as a kind of wishful-thinking ‘romanticism’ in restorative justice perspectives, and analysis of restorative justice concepts. With all of this in mind, Acorn seeks in this book a critical examination of restorative justice. In particular, she critically assesses the claim that restorative justice can successfully bring together the values of love and compassion, on the one hand, and the requirement of justice and accountability, on the other hand. Toward these ends, she discusses the seductive vision of restorative justice; justice and the teachableness of universal love; restorative optimism; sentimental justice; love and justice; compulsory compassion; and restorative utopias.


AbstractCourtsNorth America and CaribbeanPolicePrisonsRJ and the WorkplaceRJ in SchoolsRJ TheoryStatutes and LegislationTeachers and Students
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