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Retribution and Restoration: The Two Paths

Linehan, Elizabeth
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) Blueprint for Social Justice. 56:5. (Loyola University of New Orleans). Downloaded 9 June 2004.

Using specific examples from the correctional and criminal justice systems, Elizabeth Linehan echoes Nils Christie’s characterization of corrections as a ‘pain system.’ There is, in other words, a basic assumption in this system that the proper response to criminal wrongdoing should involve the infliction of ‘units of suffering’ in correspondence to the ‘units of wrongdoing.’ With this in mind, Linehan in this article examines the basic assumptions and operations of our system of criminal justice, based as it is on retribution. She then explores an alternative model based on restoration, a model that she believes is morally superior to the retributive model. She also believes that restorative justice can be practical. To make her argument she surveys key ideas and realities with respect to the nature and use of retribution, compares them with principles and practices of restorative justice, and evaluates prospects for the consistent and thoroughgoing implementation of restorative justice as the criminal justice system.


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