Does retributive justice promote the well-being of people who engage in crime in the society? This is one of the fundamental questions that are often posed by the commentators in the discipline of correctional philosophy. The orientation of the society in the contemporary society denotes the modernization of the social structures of the society to promote the cohesiveness of people in the society. This paper compares and contrasts between restorative justice and retributive justice. The paper argues that the society is slowly moving away from the embrace of retributive justice and giving more consideration to restorative justice because restorative justice promotes the well-being of the offenders as equal members of the society.
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For a long time, the society has made efforts to embrace law and order through the development and enforcement of laws. Therefore, offenders have been considered to be the victims of the law in the sense that the law has been used as the tool for condemning the offenders, rather than enhancing the well-being of the offenders as part of the members of the society. Perhaps, the question that comes to the mind at this juncture is about the ability to use punishment as embedded in law as a means of promoting the welfare of the people who are convicted of crime in the society. This question points at the complex relationship between restorative justice and retributive justice.
According to Daly (1999), there is a confusion of whether crime should be understood from the personal perspective or whether crime should be understood from the complex structures of the society. From the outset, retributive justice is seen as a form of justice that pays a lot off attention to the legal attributes of the society by taking crime as an individual act, rather than an act that is promoted by the fabric of the society. In retributive justice, the criminal justice system is placed at the center of controlling crime in the society. Crime is looked at as a heinous act that is committed by an individual and the individual who is convicted of crime is seen as being an unfit member of the society, thus such a person is incarcerated (Daly, 1999).
According to Daly (1999), retributive justice paints people as criminals in the society by way of embracing the establishment of criminal proceedings against people and the subsequent conviction of the people who are found to be guilty of certain acts. To a large extent, people who commit crime warrant the force of the law as without the law, such people can be disastrous to the peaceful co-existence, continuity, and the knit of the society.
This is in reference to people who are violent and commit violent crimes in the society. While liberal law should be respected as replicated in criminal law and the use of criminal law to incarcerate the people who are convicted of crime in the society, there is a need to relook and rethink about the way the society treats its members. The question that ought to be explored at this juncture is whether there should be a limitation in the application of law in the society.
This question is based on the fact that the application of law in what is referred to as retributive justice promotes the acts of segregation or condemnation of human beings when they are engaged in acts that are considered to be against the laws and statutes of the society. This is notable in the assertion that, “For pragmatic reasons, however, we need to think about what is possible and workable today, even as a more radical critique reminds us of the limits of liberal law and legal reform” (Daly, 1999, p. 1).
Having observed what retributive justice is, it is imperative to appreciate that change in inevitable in the manner in which the society treats the members who are considered to be deviant from the virtues of the society. This paves the way for the understanding of what restorative justice is. Restorative justice means that the offenders, even the habitual offenders, are supposed to be given a chance by the society.
Such a chance means that there should be a review in the way the society embraces law and order, on the one hand, and how the society shapes its well-being in terms of paving way to community corrections that are more considerate to the people who engage in law breaking. Of greater essence in the attributes of restorative justice is the establishment and sustenance of programs that are critical in reforming the people who are considered to deviate from the established structures of order in the society (Wenzel et al., 2008). How then can the law be moderated to embrace restorative justice, given the fact that human behavior in most times paves way for criminal activities in the society?
Wenzel et al. (2008) observed that restorative justice acts a replacement of the long-held western justice that was court-based. It is imperative to observe that restorative justice brings a new face in the assessment of justice, especially the embrace of elements of psychology in embracing justice. Restorative justice eliminates the attributes of unilateral approach to crimes and criminals in the society, as was done through retributive justice where individuals were subjected to punishment unilaterally. The implication here is that retributive justice does not pay attention to a bilateral approach to the issue of justice in the society.
Bradshaw and Roseborough (2005) reiterated the need for the development of programs to curb the cases of juvenile recidivism. The fact that a substantial number of youth engage in different types of crimes, like the abuse of hard drugs and engagement in sexual offenses is a reason enough to argue that restorative justice is inevitable. The best way of dealing with the cycle of crime in the society is through reforming the members of the society using correctional and rehabilitative programs, but not convicting them and sentencing criminals, which in most cases aggravate crime in the society (Bradshaw & Roseborough, 2005).
Retributive justice dwells on law in dealing with crime in the society, while restorative justice enhances the application of diverse tactics, apart from law as far as embracing law and order in the society is concerned. A look at most of the points presented in the discussion denotes that restorative justice is slowly overtaking retributive justice as more people seek for means of dealing with the cycle of crime in the society. The future of correctional services points at the need to pay more attention to social and psychological attributes in reforming people in the society, rather than focusing on law because the law does not reduce or eliminate crime in the society in the long run.
Bradshaw, W., & Roseborough, D. (2005). Restorative justice dialogue: The impact of mediation and conferencing on juvenile recidivism. Fed. Probation, 69(2), 15-21. Web.
Daly, K. (1999). Revisiting the relationship between retributive and restorative justice. Web.
Wenzel, M., Okimoto, T. G., Feather, N. T., & Platow, M. J. (2008). Retributive and restorative justice. Law and Human Behavior, 32(5), 375-389. Web.