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Responsibility and restorative justice

Braithwaite, John
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) In Restorative community justice: Repairing harm and transforming communities, ed. Gordon Bazemore and Mara Schiff, 63-84. With an introduction by Gordon Bazemore and Mara Schiff. Cincinnati, OH: Anderson Publishing Co.

Braithwaite and Roche point out that the idea of responsibility (e.g., developing responsibility in people; holding people responsible for their actions) appeals to many people of various views. Therefore, through this essay, they explore the concept of responsibility through a specifically restorative justice viewpoint. They start with the notion that responsibility in this framework consists in that which is most likely to promote restoration – of victims, offenders, and communities. From this basis, they distinguish between active responsibility and passive responsibility. Active responsibility means taking responsibility for one’s actions. Passive responsibility means being held accountable for one’s actions. Their argument is that responsibility in the restorative sense means active responsibility, though restorative justice theory and practice must retain some sense of and use for passive responsibility. They then explore how this distinction between active and passive responsibility works out into distinctions between active and passive deterrence, rehabilitation, and incapacitation. This leads them to develop the rudiments of a jurisprudence of active responsibility. They also deal with concerns or objections raised by this restorative conception of responsibility.


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