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Reparation and Retribution: Are They Reconcilable?

Zedner, Lucia
June 4, 2015

Source: (1998) Ch. 7.4. In, Andrew von Hirsch and Andrew Ashworth, eds., Principled Sentencing. Readings on Theory and Policy. Oxford: Hart Publishing. Pp. 336-347. Excerpted and reprinted from Lucia Zedner (1994), “Reparation and Retribution: Are They Reconcilable?”, Modern Law Review, 57: 228-250.

Lucia Zedner begins this essay with the observation that arguments in favor of reparative components in the criminal justice system are generally practical and limited rather than moral and comprehensive. That is, reparation is seen as desirable for pragmatic and economic reasons, and reparation thus conceived requires little change in standard criminal justice perspectives. In this regard there is little controversy about reparative elements except to debate whether reparation can achieve the intended pragmatic and economic objectives. A fully reparative theory of criminal justice, however, poses a significant challenge to the current criminal justice system. For example, in terms of sentencing it would require a focus on the issues of harm and repair of harm rather than the culpability of the offender. It would involve the community in the repair of the harm, and it would aim for restoration of community. On these bases, Zedner explains the idea of a reparative approach to criminal justice and asks whether reparation is compatible with punishment.


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