Essay on History of Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice - Background

Restorative Justice can be described an effective as well as problem-resolving technique involving the community and the party themselves in a robust relationship initiated with the state authorities. It means that involvement of the victim is as important as that of the offender to resolve a conflict in appropriate circumstances and within controlled environment in which every part is given a chance to describe the consequences to them related to the offence. Efforts are made to convince offender for taking the responsibility of the conflict. Restorative Justice aims to maintain a delicate balance between the victim's concerns and the society so that the offender could reintegrate into community. (Towes, 2004)

Crime under a Restorative Justice is viewed in the social context stressing on making a robust relationship with different other elements instead of a system designed in isolation. The concept of Restorative Justice has mainly been developed in the Western world including countries like Australia, New Zealand, the United States and some Western European nations. Offender, in Restorative Justice, is made to interact with the victims so that he/she can feel the consequences of his/her crime ensuring a behavioral change that can be brought in the future.

Crimes are viewed in a different way highlighting the harm caused and striving to repair the consequences mainly by reducing the chances of crime in the future. Offender, after confronting with the victim, feels the gravity of his/her action and takes the responsibility. As such, Restorative Justice is, in fact, a cooperative effort in a society with the support of government reforming entire system. It involves every stakeholder in a crime with everyone trying to resolve the problem occurring due to the crime and dealing with its consequences collectively.

The Basis of Restorative Justice- Where it comes from?

Process of Restorative Justice provides a huge opportunity for the victims and the persons directly affected by the crime. Moreover, the offender is also given a chance to make repairs by feeling the consequences of the act. The main stakeholders of the crime involved in the process of Restorative Justice are; victim, families, offender, and the representatives of the society. In addition to the countries mentioned above, other nations where the system of Restorative Justice has been developed are; Canada, Sweden, Finland, and the United Kingdom. (Johnstone, 2001)

The process of Restorative Justice is entirely new style of thinking in criminology. However, its roots are said to be found in the justice system of ancient Greek, Arabs, the Roman Civilization, and Buddhists. The system was revived in the decade of 1940 and significant developments were made in the last decade of the twentieth century. In several countries, Restorative Justice has become a main focus of their criminal justice policies providing and promoting, reconciliation as well as reassurance supported by government and community.

It is pertinent to highlight the difference between Retributive and Restorative Justice. In Retributive Justice, crime is viewed as a violation of state laws making offender and the state responsible. However, in Restorative Justice, crime has been described in entirely new way and not viewed as an offense against state. The offender is made to realize the consequence of act and both- victim and offender- are involved in interactive sessions to resolve the aftermath of crime by dialogue and negotiations supported by the society and government. (Walqrave, 2003)

One of the main objectives of Restorative Justice is to provide a solution and prevent the re-occurrence of crime. As offender assumes the responsibility of the crime in a face-to-face interaction with the victim or the people affected by the incident, the needs of the affected person/s are attended effectively. This rehabilitation process supports in reducing the rate of crime in future. (Hadley, 2001)

Restorative Justice involves communities of care, victims, and all concerned affected by the crime including friends and families increasing social solidarity and harmony among community members. The interactive sessions involving both offender and the victim or people affected by the crime are called as 'circles' or 'conferences' and the people participating are called as 'primary stakeholders'. In Restorative Justice, defendants are given protection against any unbalanced punishment. Victims have not only the right to justice but also right not be bear any more damages.

Theories of Restorative Justice

Several theories have been developed to describe the real theme and working of Restorative Justice. Among them, the most important is 'Control Theory' hypothesizing that state intervention should be strongly related to the community efforts of reform. Theory of neutralization argues that a main aspect in providing opportunity to offender for committing crime was that many techniques of neutralization have been employed to minimize the overall effects of the criminal actions. The theory of abolitionism stresses on replacing state control with more control by society creating personal relationships, harmony, and solidarity. (Zehr, 1990)

Conclusion

The paper has described the concept of Restorative Justice as a new style of thinking in criminology developed and practices mostly in the Western world. Efforts in Restorative Justice are made to convince offender for taking the responsibility of the conflict while interacting with the victim or people affected by the crime and understanding the impact of crime.

References

Hadley, M 2001, The Spiritual Roots of Restorative Justice, State University of New York Press

Johnstone, G 2001, Restorative Justice: Ideas, Practices, Debates,

Towes, B 2004, Critical Issues in Restorative Justice, Criminal Justice Press

Walqrave, L 2003, Repositioning Restorative Justice, Willan Publishing

Zehr, H 1990, Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime and Justice,

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