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Risk And Restorative Justice: Governing Through the Democratic Minimization of Harms

O'Malley, Pat
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) In, Ivo Aertsen, Tom Daems and Luc Robert, editors, Institutionalizing Restorative Justice. Cullompton, Devon and Portland: Willan Publishing Press pp.216-233

The two main issues discussed in this chapter are: how do risk and governance relate to the continuing institutionalization of restorative justice and how should we look at possible new configurations that might surface regarding restoration, justice and risk? In order to address these questions, the author makes two abstract points about risk: First, while the term risk is used to refer to the broad range of ways of predicting the future, it may be important to differentiate risk between its everyday use and the everyday use of the term uncertainty. In order to do this, the author then defines risk as the “probable and usually statistical predictions” that often relate to harms, while uncertainty is an estimate of the future that is primarily based on experiences. His second abstract point is that if risk is a probabilistic assessment of future harms, it is an “abstract technology” that has multiple capabilities in governmental and institutional forms. He goes on to state that restorative justice is reflective of neoliberalism, one reason being that it focuses on individual subjects, such as the victim or the offender. The author concludes by saying that the important issue is to determine what are considered harms and how should these harms be minimized by democratic needs?


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