Restorative Justice Essay

1722 words - 7 pages

Introduction:
Restorative justice is the idea that harm caused by a crime can be repaired (Wallis, 2007) and that the victim and community can be restored to how it was previously, rather than resorting to punishing the offender (Liebmann, 2007). At the moment, the criminal justice system is based on retributive justice over restorative justice; this is where a lawbreaker receives punishment in proportion to the crime inflicted (Milovanovic, 2007) and is given back what they have given the victim: harm (Koneke, 2011). Restorative justice has been seen as a potentially transformative social practice that could see the end for the need for harsh criminal punishments and incarceration (Menkel-Meadow, 2007). This could change public debate about crime and justice completely because the idea behind crime and justice is beginning to move further away from the traditional, retributive system that we are so accustomed too, and towards a more liberal, restorative justice system that focuses on repairing the harm done by the offender.
Restorative Justice:
Restorative justice can be seen as a very beneficial thing because of the good it does to the community. It is felt that ordinary people who are directly affected by the wrongdoing should take an active part in deciding what should happen in the aftermath of the offence (Zernova, 2007) because it enables victims to meet with the offender and discuss what happened. This thereby requires the offender to be held accountable for the harm they have caused and that their accountability involves understanding and acknowledging the harm and taking steps to make things right (Zehr, 1990). Williams (2004) further argues that restorative justice is intended to represent the ideal that offenders should make good the harm they did to the victim and to society as a whole, they should work towards mending not merely physical but also psychological harms and breaches in relationships and bonds in society where their crime has caused. Ashworth (2002) argued that restorative justice is a good thing because the closer the adjudicators and enforcers are to the offender; the more likely they are to be effective in bringing about the desired change in behaviour. So not only does restorative justice focus on the victim and the community, it also helps to bring the offender back into the community and reduce the likelihood of them committing the crime again.
Under the current criminal justice system there is a retributive approach to crime and punishment. By restorative justice having such a profound impact on the way in which crime and justice is viewed, this could transform public debate completely. People will be more inclined to adopt a more restorative approach to punishment as opposed to a retributive approach. There have been many proven benefits that come with the restorative approach, as highlighted in a Home Office report by Marshall (1999). It was stated that the majority of victims offered the chance of meeting...

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