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Restoring justice

Zehr, Howard
June 4, 2015

Source: (1999) In God and the victim: Theological reflections on evil, victimization, justice, and forgiveness, ed. Lisa Barnes Lampman and Michelle D. Shattuck, 131-159. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; and Neighbors Who Care: Washington, D.C.

Howard Zehr begins this chapter by observing that a society’s response to crime can be typified as one of three R’s: revenge; retributive justice; or restorative justice. Zehr argues that modern Western legal systems tend to be characterized by retributive justice – crime as breaking the law and as an offense against the state, with marginalization of the victim. Biblical justice in contrast is rooted in a vision of shalom, consisting in a community of right relationships. In this approach to justice, restorative processes are most appropriate in response to crime, for crime harms people and relationships. Restorative processes, therefore, should seek to repair the harm; and they should involve all the parties affected – the victim, offender, and community. With all of this in mind, Zehr then examines what victims in particular need in the aftermath of crime. He discusses the effects of crime on victims, and outlines the corresponding aims of restorative responses to victims.


AbstractLiving Restoratively
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