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Retributive Justice vs. Restorative Justice Essay

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Updated: Mar 23rd, 2021

I believe that the concept of retributive justice is more realistic for the justice system as it dwells on the idea of crime as a malfunction in a governmentally-controlled human social system. Restorative justice concentrates on the community and relies on human prudence and reason which cannot always be sound in the modern society.

The retributive justice implies that punishment is conducted by the state authorities in accordance with the suspect’s wrongdoing. Retributivism seems understandable and more appealing to the general public (Moore, 1997, p. 101). You cannot inflict any punishment on those who have done no wrong, but you also cannot severely punish someone who has done minimal damage. According to Hart (1968), retributivism provides a necessary condition for punishment, but the reasons to punish are determined by a detailed investigation and thorough considerations (p. 8).

The general public rests easily when they think that the wrongdoers are treated the way they deserve. Retributivism sees them as responsible individuals who should have considered their victims’ rights and are entitled to censure if they fail to do so. Retributive system imposes an obligation of following the simple rule of mutual respect on everyone without exception. It basically justifies the statement that harsh treatment is equally deserved.

This is why, to the general public, retribution as a concept may look morally dubious but reliable nonetheless (Bloom, 2013). There is also the argument about people lacking free will which is a complete opposite of the restorative approach and more close to the truth. Wrongdoers are treated as people with their own tendencies to malfunction and make mistakes. They are chastised and persecuted for their mistakes and are encouraged to correct them.

Restorative justice is characterized by concentrating on the aftermath of the crime rather than dealing with the crime itself. It requires a high level of cooperation from the members of a community which not every society can provide. The positive sides of the restorative approach include the fact that all of the attempts and considerations are focused on the possible ways to prevent the crime from ever happening again and taking steps towards this objective.

Restorativism also pursues the noble goal of uniting people by engaging them in the process of restoration after the crime. This approach is concentrating on transforming the community and improving interpersonal relationships between its members. The main values of restorative values are peaceful social life, mutual respect between people, solidarity, and active responsibility (Values n.d.). The problem with the restorative justice is that, in order for it to work properly, we need to reform our society accordingly.

I suppose the retributive approach is more realistic in this case. It also treats victims as individuals with rights and responsibilities whose conditions are considered during the crime investigation process. It defines wrongdoing by the magnitude of a victim’s suffering. The restorative justice views individual victims rather like parts of the whole and tools for achieving better living conditions. It encourages collaboration and making amends, forcing the offenders to take matters into their own hands and rectify the errors, but expecting this level of accountability from people in our society, whether they are the wrongdoers or the victims, is a big stretch. The analysis of criminal behavior and tending to the victim’s needs is more characteristic of the retributive approach.

References

Bloom, P. (2013). Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil. New York, NY: Crown Publishers.

Hart, H. (1968). Punishment and Responsibility. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Moore, M. S. (1997). Placing Blame: A Theory of Criminal Law. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

. (n.d.). Web.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Retributive Justice vs. Restorative Justice." March 23, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/retributive-justice-vs-restorative-justice/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Retributive Justice vs. Restorative Justice'. 23 March.

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