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The expressive function of restorative punishment: a ‘public interest’ perspective

Van Stokkom, Bas
June 4, 2015

Source: (2007) In Robert Mackay, Marko Bosnjak, Johann Deklerck, Christa Pelikan, Bas van Stokkom, and Martin Wright, ed., Images of Restorative Justice Theory. Frankfurt, Germany: Verlag fur Polizeiwissenschaft. Pp. 151-167.

“This chapter is focused at the ‘expressive function’ (Feinberg, 1970) of restorative punishment. I will argue that the ‘private setting’ of a conference paradoxically has better opportunities to affirm public norms and stimulate public peace than traditional judicial proceedings. It is first argued – contra restorativist intuitions – that punishment is an inevitable or unavoidable feature of social life and that constructive punishment is only possible when moral outrage is communicated and (some) trust is recovered. Secondly it is stressed that restorative justice offers promising ways of ‘participative censuring’ that could satisfy public needs. Focusing communication on personal testimonies of being injured and condemnation of the wrongful behaviour accommodates public concerns. These denunciation and reassurance functions may be the most powerful part of restorative justice. If the ‘blaming symbols’ are expressed vehemently, the public could be more easily convinced that repair arguments may override retributive arguments. In the words of Dan Kahan (2006), it is the ‘expressive political economy’ of restorative justice, the dispersal of condemnatory symbolic meanings, which could replace the need for imprisonment and other repressive sanctions.” (abstract)


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