- Showing 2 posts filed under: Distinguishing [–] published between May 01, 2011 and May 31, 2011 [Show all]
What is the difference between unitive justice and restorative justice?
When you are providing restorative justice services to a criminal court, the way the court defines the problem, i.e., who broke the law, makes identifying the offender easy. But if you stop there, you fail to give context its due consideration. While context does not dictate personal choice, it certainly impacts it. A boy who grows up surrounded by drug dealers is far more likely to see that as a career option than a boy who has no drug dealers in his neighborhood.
Moreover, when you broaden the lens and include more about context, who the offender is depends on which moment in time you are referring to, and from which perspective you choose to look. In the larger scheme of things, there is no easily defined line that can be drawn between offenders and victims, as it is a muddled mix of choices made in the past, and in real time and embedded in the future game plan.
Restorative terminology: A modest proposal
by Dan Van Ness
Howard Zehr suggests that at the core of restorative justice are the values of respect, responsibility and relationship. Respect for others, genuine responsibility that acknowledges the true extent to which my actions affect others, and a recognition that the universe is relational and not merely material, all are reflected in what we call restorative justice.
But should we apply that term to all attempts to follow those values?
For example, is civility restorative justice? I recently received an email message from an interesting group called Civilination whose mission "is to foster an online culture where every person can freely participate in a democratic, open, rational and truth-based exchange of ideas and information, without fear or threat of being the target of unwarranted abuse, harassment, or lies." In other words, they want online culture to reflect respect, responsibility and relationships. They believe their work is connected to restorative justice and wanted us to inform our readers of their important work (which we've now done!).