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Leaders: Sensitive handling on restorative justice

November 13, 2013

In committee at Holyrood, Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes brought forward an amendment to the Victims and Witnesses Bill that could incorporate “restorative justice” into Scots law.

This would give victims of crime the right to demand a face-to-face apology from the person who committed that crime. Pilot schemes with young offenders are said to have produced encouraging outcomes, in two ways.

First, they have helped victims come to terms with their ordeal, and to address what can often be a debilitating feeling of helplessness and powerlessness.

Secondly, perpetrators have been forced to confront the often devastating effects their actions have had on real people. Sometimes, those guilty of crimes are barely aware of their victims at all, except in some generic sense. Restorative justice shows them as people of flesh and blood, and feelings too.

Some victims of crime find this a cathartic process. If crime is personal, then maybe justice should be too. In the overused and often misunderstood phrase, it might allow them to “find closure”.

Read the full article.


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