Back to RJ Archive

Restorative justice: For whose benefit?

Wright, Martin
June 4, 2015

Source: (2000) In Victim-offender mediation in Europe: Making restorative justice work, ed. The European Forum for Victim-Offender Mediation and Restorative Justice, 19-38. With an introduction by Tony Peters. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press.

Wright begins by noting the argument of Nils Christie that crime is “property,â€? and that the professionals (lawyers, probation officers, and others) had “stolenâ€? this property from those who “ownâ€? it – those directly involved in and affected by crime, in particular the victim and the offender. Upon this background, Wright develops a typology of restorative justice structures and practices. He distinguishes authoritarian restorative justice from democratic restorative justice. Authoritarian restorative justice indicates restorative structures and practices controlled by the courts and their officials. Democratic restorative justice (also described as community-based restorative justice) indicates structures and practices controlled by those directly involved in and affected by the crime. (Wright believes that most practitioners of restorative justice favor this form.) He also identifies unilateral restorative justice as a part of this continuum. Unilateral restorative justice indicates restorative structures and practices that focus on restoration for either the offender or the victim. Rather than mutually exclusive alternatives, Wright construes these types of restorative structures and practices as points on a continuum from approaches that are not restorative to approaches that are truly and fully restorative. In this respect, authoritarian restorative justice is a limited type or form of restorative justice that tends to benefit people in authority (criminal justice professionals and politicians) more than victims and offenders.


Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now