Review: Why Punishment? How Much?
reviewed by Eric Assur
Those interested in restorative justice (RJ) will often only explore the world of the contemporary justice scene through literature which largely reflects on the application of RJ in all of its flavors over the past two or three decades. This punishment collection with a catchy title, edited by a Univ. of Minnesota law professor, looks at the bigger picture with RJ providing one slice of the larger discussion.
Justice? What about understanding?
Scrolling through RSS feeds I saw a link for, “After driving on sidewalk to pass school bus, woman must wear ‘idiot’ sign.” I admit clicking the link to see what it was about. The first line quotes someone as declaring, “Justice has been served!” before going into how a woman had driven on a sidewalk to get around a parked school bus with children on it. The penalty was to stand near the scene of the incident wearing a sign that says, “Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid the school bus.” She will also pay a $250 fine.
Book Review: The Machinery of Criminal Justice
from the review by Andrew Taslitz on Jotwell:
....Bibas’s new book, The Machinery of Criminal Justice, is so humane and thoughtful an analysis of the reforms needed in our criminal justice system that I find myself drawn to giving him still more good press....
Bibas’s argument turns on three central ideas: (1) the system pretends to a mechanistic efficiency deaf to the emotions and meaningful expressions that undergird any sound system of criminal justice; (2) lawyers and other experts have hijacked the system to serve their own needs, displacing defendants, victims, and even judges; and (3) the political forces at work are skewed toward undue penal harshness and elite control rather than adequately balanced by informed lay participation.
John Braithwaite video introduction to restorative justice
John Braithwaite is a leader in restorative justice (and in many other fields). He teaches at Australian National University which has now posted an 18 minute video in which he explains the basic theories and applications of restorative justice.
It is well done, and is presented in segments, which means it can be used in whole or in part.
Dangers of the big tent
In making the case for restorative justice, Erik Luna invokes the familiar narrative of a pathological American criminal justice system—political demagogues pushing ever tougher sentencing policies on an uninformed public, resulting in wildly escalating prisons populations and fiscal burdens—and asserts that restorative justice cannot possibly do any worse. Indeed, he suggests, restorative justice may bring about a change in heart among the demagogues: the theory and principles of restorative justice may force policymakers “to reevaluate their own intellectual commitments and the merits of their chosen sentencing methodologies.