There are two main approaches in the administering of the criminal justice system that are often compared and contrasted. Retributive justice represents a more traditional approach, which focuses on punishment. On the other hand, restorative justice emphasizes on restoring harm and repairing relationships. While each approach certainly has their advantage and disadvantages, the media also plays an important role in influencing the public’s perception on them. Although I agree with many elements of restorative justice, I believe that the most effective way in providing justice may not be to choose one over the other, but to combine elements of both.
Retributive justice can be seen as a conventional approach in most criminal justice systems, and the process is accomplished mostly through criminal justice professionals such as the police, lawyers, and judges (Elliot, 2012, p.341). Fundamentally, criminal law prohibits any actions that are deemed to be detrimental to the community, with certain punishments attached when they are broken (Griffith, 2011, p.15). These laws are established by the government and any acts contrary to its definition signify an offence, or a violation against the state. Further, the criminal justice system in Canada is known as an adversarial system, where justice can be achieved once two sides have made their case for the truth (Griffith, 2011, p.12). Once guilt has been established, the accused will receive a specific punishment in accordance to the crimes they have committed. These punishments are designed to deter potential offenders and “to ‘equalize’ the harm suffered by the victim” (Elliot, 2012, p.341).
While the retributive system has well defined standards, its effectiveness is sometimes questionable. Maintaining the criminal justice system is a very costly endeavor and a lack of resources often spells doom for various components of the system. According to various studies, effective punishment can only be achieved when they are imposed without delay (Griffith, 2011, p.24). This is troublesome due to lengthy delays resulting from the various goals of the accused and the prosecution. For example, judges have limited time to process cases and meet all of their responsibilities on a daily basis (Cole, 2012, p.90). When offenders don’t show up to trial or when cases are not completed, it inevitably produces a backlog of cases that postpones chastisement. Since most cases are centralized and handled by trained professionals, the retributive approach may actually cause the public to take a backseat to crime-solving and be less proactive (Elliot, 2012, p.341).
While punishment is a necessary process in the criminal justice system, when offenders are imprisoned, they are taken away from the community. This isolation can make it more difficult for them to reintegrate once they are released. Convicted criminals also carry a negative stigma that is hard to shed once they have been attached...