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Justice that Restores: From Impersonal to Personal Justice

Van Ness, Daniel W
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) In Criminal Justice: Retribution vs. Restoration. Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work 23(1/2): 93-109.

Restorative justice is a movement within criminal justice that draws from a conception of justice as personal rather than impersonal. This article offers a definition of restorative justice and describes its hallmark programs: victim offender mediation, conferencing, circles, restitution, and community service. It explores the differences between restorative justice and contemporary criminal justice, including their relative strengths. Whereas criminal justice derives from an impersonal conception of justice, restorative justice draws from a personal understanding. Differences between the two views of justice are described, and a brief survey of history and cultures demonstrates that personal conceptions of justice have played, and continue to play, significant roles in shaping societies’ responses to crime. Author’s abstract.


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