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Howard Zehr on Partial Justice

June 6, 2009

From Howard Zehr’s blog: While we should always aim to be as restorative as possible, it is important to acknowledge that full restorative justice is not always achievable.   Moreover, good can come of those approaches that seem incomplete… .

A major concern, however, is that these partial or approximate
applications not be implemented as an easy out, a way to avoid the hard
work it takes to implement a full program.  Rather than work with
victims to make a program victim-friendly enough that victims want to
participate, for example, some programs instead have someone like a
staff person stand in for victims.  Not only is this often ineffective
– even counterproductive, some research suggests – but it neglects a
key goal of restorative justice.

The real genius of restorative justice is the way it highlights the
role and needs of victims in the justice process.  If restorative
justice is to truly help re-invent justice, we must not lose that focus.


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