State responses to victims: restorative justice
Origins & themes
Thinking critically (Christie):
o Dissonance between its output and outcomes and the way it was
We should treat them respectfully but we put them on the
witness stand and ask them horrific questions.
o Momentum for dissatisfaction with the CJS operating in Western
liberal democracies and victims rights momentum.
o Harm committed against individual and community has been
repositioned as harm against the State i.e. State has come to own
The process of conflict and conflict resolution has been
removed from the individuals who are part of it and out it in an
abstract place i.e. the State.
Professionalisation of criminal justice and responses to harm.
Overrepresentation of professions and the state.
Appropriation by the state of everyday problem.
Marginalisation of the parties most affected by crime.
State becomes the solution and we forget about the
community, thinking that we have responded but really
forgotten the greater impact.
Overemphasis of defendants’ rights, outweighing other
The offender becomes the focus.
Absence of emotion and place for apology/forgiveness.
When state gets involved they forget the need for
apologies or understanding why it happened.
Loss of an opportunity for understanding the individual.
Their background info and why they did it.
CJS not set up for these factors to be prominent in its
Reclaiming conflict (Christie):
o Need to reclaim victim’s voice in the initiation and practice of justice.
Need to forefront their needs and requirements – become the
target and focus.
Outcomes should be based on this.
o Looks to practices and cultures to identify times and places where
victims play/played a more central role in the resolution of conflict.
o Possible answer – restorative justice.
What is restorative justice
Emphasises the repair of harm resulting from the crime, including harm to
Process where all parties with a stake in a specific offence come together to
resolve collectively how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its
implications for the future. Umbrella term that is used widely and operationalised in diverse ways, but we
can identify core values.
o There is no way in which we act it out, but there are core values that all
restorative justices paradigms and responses display.
o Responds to different contexts with different applications with
different aims and allowing for different outcomes, but shared
Victim as actively involved – central player.
Importance of restoration – as close to they were before as
Recognition of community.
o Recognises that:
Crime has its origin in social conditions and relationships in the
Crime is situated and needs to be understood in light of
the social conditions that created and caused it to
happen in that time and place.
Crime prevention in dependent on communities taking some
responsibility for remedying those social conditions that cause
The aftermath of crime cannot be fully resolved for the parties
themselves without their personal involvement.
Justice measures must be flexible enough to be able to respond
to the particular exigencies, personal needs, and the potential
for action in each case.
Comparing retributive and restorative justice
Crime defined as violation of the state. Crime defined as violation of one person
Focus on establishing blame. Focus on problem-solving, liabilities and
Past oriented – did the offender do it? Is future oriented – what should be done
to address the harm?
Adversarial relationships and process Dialogue and negotiation normative.
Imposition of pain to punish and Restitution as a means of restoring both
prevent/deter. parties (reconciliation/restoration as
Community on side-line, represented Community as facilitator in restorative
abstractly by the state. process.
Action directed from state to offender – Victim’s and offender’s roles recognised
victim ignored and offender passive. in both problem and solution – victim
rights/needs recognised, offender
encouraged to take responsibility.
Offender accountability defined as taking Defined as understanding impact of
punishment. action and helping decide how to make things right.
Offence defined in legal terms, devoid of Offence understood in mo