Debating restorative justice
reviewed by Martin Wright:
This is the first of a new series of law books, each containing two essays of about 30,000 words on different sides of a current debate. Carolyn Hoyle suggests that there is more talk than action, and some of the action called restorative is actually punitive, such as the community service performed in conspicuous clothes. In her discussion of communitarianism she regards community participation as the presence of supporters and others at a restorative conference, but does not refer to the involvement of independent voluntary-sector mediation services (and admittedly they are thin on the ground). She considers that communitarians go too far in rejecting the state. In her view restorative justice and criminal justice are complementary: courts are necessary if the accused doesn’t admit involvement. This is true; Hoyle does not exclude the use of prison for retribution, but surely in a fully restorative system the courts would impose reparative, not punitive, sanctions. She does not explore whether these should try to be proportionate to the offender’s culpability or the harm suffered by the victim.
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.