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Re-Thinking Criminal Justice: Restorative Justice

Zehr, Howard
June 4, 2015

Source: (1995) Re-Thinking Criminal Justice. 1(May): 1-13.

State and national legislatures have adopted bills, such as the “three strikes, you’re out” laws, that will massively increase the incarceration rate. This growing appetite for punishment occurs at a time when crime rates in the United States are stable or falling. The pattern appears to have much to do with the political process and the way the media shape the myths, metaphors, stereotypes and assumptions that structure popular thought about crime and justice. It also is related to the post-modern search for identity, security, control and predictability. The burden of the new laws will fall heaviest on minorities, and will result in court overload as more offenders fight conviction by refusing to plea bargain. Attempts to promote offender accountability, denounce offenders’ wrongful acts, and deal with the crises of victimization have included Sentencing Circles, Family Group Conferences, and Victim Offender Reconciliation Programs. All reflect the concept of restorative justice, which involves victim, offender and community in an effort to identify obligations, meet needs and promote healing. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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