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Justice as Restoration, Justice as Respect

Zehr, Howard
June 4, 2015

Source: (1998) Justice Professional. 11: 71-87.

The causes of the “new retributivism” sweeping America may not be entirely clear but the consequences are becoming so: they include the creation of a massive ‘corrections-industrial complex’ with a built-in incentive to expand. Yet this emphasis on punishment often teaches the wrong lesson, fails to hold offenders accountable and ignores victim needs. A variety of ‘new’ responses to crime are addressing the problem of crime in more positive ways; these include Sentencing Circles, Family Group Conferences, and Victim Offender Reconciliation. They suggest that the failures of justice lies in the concept itself, the ‘retributive’ paradigm. A ‘restorative’ approach is more in keeping with the needs of victims and offenders and with most cultural traditions. Ultimately justice must be reframed as making peace, not a war on crime. Crime is essentially about disrespect; justice must be rooted in respect. (author’s abstract)


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