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From Philosophical Abstraction to Restorative Action, From Senseless Retribution to meaningful restitution: Just Deserts and Restorative Justice Revistited

Fattah, Ezzat A
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) In, Elmar G.M. Weitekamp and Han-Jurgen Kerner, Restorative Justice: Theoretical Foundations. Deon, UK: Willan Publishing. Pp. 308-321.

Ezzat Fattah contends that one of the greatest problems of the contemporary criminal justice system is that it is extremely resistant to change. The emergence of the social sciences in the nineteenth century signaled scholarly progress and transitions from the abstract to the concrete, from the speculative to the empirical, from the theological to the sociological, and from the metaphysical to the psychological and criminological. However, according to Fattah, criminal law and the criminal justice system remain frozen in the abstract philosophical and metaphysical notions of the Age of Enlightenment – largely impenetrable to the theories and research findings of the new sciences. Abstract, philosophical goals of expiation, atonement, and retribution remain paramount; social objectives such as reconciliation, restoration, reparation, and reintegration are little pursued or not at all. In this context, Fattah argues that restorative justice is the paradigm of the future for criminal justice. Restorative justice is justice focused on redress to the victim as one of its primary goals. However, retributive justice and “just desertsâ€? theories and approaches have been advocated in recent decades. Fattah sees these as regressive perspectives oriented around punishment for the sake of punishment.


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