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Restorative justice, Retribution, Atonement, Restorativism, Punishment as atonement


Criminal Law


Restorative justice is a way of responding to crime, and according to its proponents, it's a much better way of responding than the way they believe we now respond: through punishment imposed in the name of retributive justice. According to its proponents, restorative justice is better than retributive justice because it restores, or at least tries to restore, the victim; retribution's only aim is to punish the offender. According to restorativists, retribution ignores the victim.

I argue here for two claims. First, I argue in Part II that restorative justice cannot have it both ways: it cannot achieve the restoration of the victim it seeks without the punishment it rejects. If restorative justice really wants to fully restore victims of crime, then it cannot eliminate punishment. Second, I argue in Part III that restorative justice does not, despite what its proponents say, really insist on the total elimination of punishment. Instead, it insists on its transformation.

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Published in: Utah Law Review, vol. 2003, no. 1 (2003).

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