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Proposed Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice: Recognising the Aims and Limits of Restorative Justice

Van Ness, Daniel W
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) In, Andrew von Hirsch, et. al., eds., Restorative Justice and Criminal Justice: Competing or Reconcilable Paradigms? Oxford and Portland, Orgeon: Hart Publishing. Pp. 157-176.

Critics of restorative justice complain that its advocates offer visionary and expansive aims for restorative justice and concede little or nothing about its limits. Part of the basis for such criticism is the fact that the term “restorative justiceâ€? is used in a wide variety of ways. Acknowledging the variety of uses, Van Ness nevertheless deals little with restorative justice as a new paradigm (vision) of crime and justice, or as a public policy for responding to crime, or as a potential future system of justice. Rather, he focuses on the use of restorative justice to refer to certain types of programs involving restorative processes – for example, mediation, conferencing, or circles – as well as judicially imposed sentences that arguably lead to reparative outcomes – such as restitution or community service. Because of the tangibility of such processes and outcomes, their aims and limitations are more readily apparent. With all of this in mind, Van Ness in this chapter reviews and comments on the Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters developed by NGOs and used as the basis for UN debate and action on restorative justice guidelines.


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