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Victims’ Rights and the Danger of Domestication of the Restorative Justice Paradigm

Obold-Eshleman, Christa
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy. 18: 571-603.

Victims’ rights laws and restorative justice theory appear to converge in their mutual concern for reforming criminal justice to include the people most affected by a crime. However, asks Christa Obold-Eshleman, are victims’ rights laws truly compatible with restorative justice? She contends that the answer is complex and highly dependent on one’s view of the essence of restorative justice. Hence, Obold-Eshleman cautions those interested in the restorative justice model. She argues that a shift in the underlying theory of rights is necessary to arrive at a restorative conception of victims’ rights. To make her case, she first examines the basic ideas and philosophies of restorative justice. This leads to a discussion of the main concepts and provisions in victims’ rights laws. After analyzing victims’ rights concepts in the context of a restorative justice paradigm, she identifies points where proponents of restorative justice should embrace victims’ rights, and areas where restorative justice advocates should exercise more caution with respect to the formalization of victims’ rights.


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