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Restorative Justice in Canada: From Sentencing in Circles to Sentencing Principles

Roberts, Julian V
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) In, Andrew von Hirsch, et. al., eds., Restorative Justice and Criminal Justice: Competing or Reconcilable Paradigms? Oxford and Portland, Orgeon: Hart Publishing. Pp. 237-256.

At the outset of this essay, Roberts and Roach claim that, with the exceptions of Australia and New Zealand, restorative justice has evolved more rapidly and more deeply in Canada than in any other jurisdiction. Interest in restorative justice has led both to alternatives to criminal justice processing and to specific statutory sentencing reforms. Examples of alternatives to criminal justice processing include victim-offender reconciliation programs and Aboriginal healing circle. In the sphere of sentencing, developments have included, for example, sentencing circles and reparation. In this context, the authors survey restorative justice initiatives that have emerged in Canada; examine the development of restorative purposes of sentencing from the late 1980s to the late 1990s; discuss a hybrid sentencing tool created in 1996 that may resolve conflicts between restorative and retributive philosophies; describe how Canadian courts have interpreted restorative sentencing provisions in the Criminal Code; and explore the possibilities of reconciling restorative and retributive justice in Canada.


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