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Reconsidering Restorative Justice: The Corruption of Benevolence Revisited?

Fulton, Betsy
June 4, 2015

Source: (1999) Crime and Delinquency 45 (January): 3-27. Reprinted in Restorative Justice. Declan Roche (2003), ed. Pp. 111-135. The International Library of Essays in Law & Legal Theory, Second Series. Aldershot, Hants, England: Dartmouth/Ashgate.

Observing the increasing popularity of restorative justice as a correctional paradigm among both liberals and conservatives, the authors acknowledge value in the restorative justice approach. However, they find the ready embrace of restorative justice problematic in two respects. One, there is a danger that restorative justice programs will be corrupted to serve nonprogressive goals; the authors see this as the possible corruption of benevolence. Two, there is little reason to think that restorative justice programs will meaningfully reduce offender recidivism. This paper examines these two problematic areas in detail. In general, the authors urge caution concerning restorative justice until further scrutiny of these issues can be conducted, including more rigorous research on restorative justice outcomes.


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