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The State, Community, and Restorative Justice: Heresy, Nostalgia, and Butterfly Collecting

Crawford, Adam
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) In, Lode Walgrave, ed., Restorative Justice and the Law. Devon, UK: Willan Publishing. Pp. 101-129.

At the outset of this chapter, Adam Crawford makes the following observation. In much restorative justice thought, the state and community are construed, explicitly or implicitly, as at odds with each other with respect to crime control. This perspective traces back in large part to Nils Christie’s seminal essay on conflicts as property. Acknowledging the value of Christie’s essay, Crawford nevertheless (“hereticallyâ€?) finds flaws in Christie’s interpretation of the historic relationship between the state and the community – flaws that are now commonplace in much restorative justice literature. He also argues that Christie and subsequent restorative justice thought reflect an undue nostalgia for community self-regulation. Additionally, restorative justice manifests some of the basic weaknesses also found in butterfly collecting, with its method of gathering and displaying items abstracted from their environment. For example, restorative justice advocates often tout family group conferencing and other restorative processes with little reflection on the importance of cultural settings. With all of this in mind, Crawford reflects on the relationship between the state, the community, and restorative justice.


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