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The current justice system is primarily retributive.

As such, this system


characterizes crime as a violation of laws or rules, where culpability is
determined and the guilty are punished (Elliot, p.65, 2011). As discussed in
previous readings and the journals, this doesnt establish fairness and
equality as it reduces the victims role to that of a mere witness in the justice
process. Restorative justice on the other hand, gives victims and
communities the right to be involved in the process. By doing this, it presents
many opportunities to better our current justice system.
Victims often feel ignored, neglected or even abused by the [criminal]
justice process (Zher, p.14, 2002). Restorative justice addresses this by
giving victims the opportunity to tell their stories, to bring on or acquire
support for their own recovery from injury, to overcome fears generated by
the harm and to wholly participate in the decision-making processes that
produce reparative plans (Elliot, p.68, 2011). The ability to overcome the
fear or feelings generated by the harm is the greatest form of justice a legal
system could bring to victims. As evident in Elizabeths case, meeting the
offender allowed her to heal as she was able to overcome the fears the
incident had brought on (Elliot, p.64, 2011). It is important to note here that
the 5 year sentence did nothing but confine her offender for years. It did not
ensure that her offender would not re-offend once out or even drive away her
fears during that time. This also gives victims of the harm power in the
decision making and legal process versus the state.

The Restorative Justice process not only presents opportunities to better


help victims but also allows offenders to participate similarly, by telling their
stories, supported in the process by people of their choice, and engaging in
the development of reparative agreements (Elliot, p.68, 2011). By doing so,
offenders must face the consequences of their action. As discussed in class,
this causes the offender to take accountability. In turn, this may result in the
offender re-evaluating his/her actions and changing for the better. Afterall,
It appears that no one other than the offenders personal victim has the
legitimacy to cut through the denial and defiance that offenders frequently
exhibit at the beginning of their restorative justice encounter and to compel
them to confront the consequences of their actions (Strang, p. 78, 2004).
This is further supported by the fact that restorative justice has overall
crime reduction effects and strong evidence for reduced reoffending by
young violent offenders (Strang, p. 77, 2004).
However, there are also challenges facing restorative justice. For one,
some cases are simply too difficult or horrendous to be worked out by those
with a direct stake in the offence (Zher, p.60, 2002). Restorative justice is
not something that can be applied to every case or work with every victim
and offender. Both parties must be willing to go through the process.
Furthermore, restorative justice is often viewed as an alternative to the
criminal justice system in relatively minor offenses despite its success in
some communities for the most severe forms of criminal violence (Zher,
p.4, 2002). The general publics lack of understanding on restorative justice

is perhaps its biggest challenge to overcome. Society needs to more


informed and educated on restorative justice, its success stories, and what it
really means. Stories like Jodis need to be heard. Without this, we cant
forsee shifts in public opinion which in turn will not result in restorative
justice being given the position it needs in our current legal system.
Elliott, E. (2011). Security With Care: Restorative Justice and Healthy
Communities. Fernwood Books.

Strang, H. (2004). The Threat to Restorative Justice posed by the Merger with
Community Justice: A Paradigm Muddle. Contemporary Justice Review, Vol. 7,
No. 1, pp. 75-79.

Zehr, H. (2002). The Little Book of Resotrative Justice. GoodBooks.