Restorative Justice and Responsive Regulation

By John Braithwaite | Go to book overview

5
Worries about Restorative Justice

MY DISPOSITION IS TRANSPARENTLY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT RESTORATIVE JUSTICE. Partly this manifests a bias, a personality that suffers pathological optimism. But it also represents a considered belief that the criminal justice system needs a new and positive vision, that criminologists became depressingly nihilistic in the 1970s and 1980s. The optimistic bias that gives pessimists something better to shoot at can yet be the kind of optimism that we see among the best natural scientists—the medical researcher whose very optimism about a new theory of disease motivates extraordinary rigor in putting in place randomized controlled trials to refute it. But that is not enough. The scientific optimist is also required to develop and test ideas about the side effects and the contraindications of her new drug. The adverse side effects and contraindications of restorative justice are numerous. Many have already been introduced in the course of qualifying the hopes and claims of the previous chapters. Here I begin with some of the structural impediments to the effectiveness of restorative justice.


RESTORATIVE JUSTICE MIGHT PROVIDE NO BENEFITS
WHATSOEVER TO MOST VICTIMS

Most victims of crime are victims of white-collar crimes without ever coming to realize this. They pay higher prices every day for products whose prices have been fixed by criminal price-fixing conspiracies. Even for offenses like burglary, where the victim is acutely aware of victimization, in every country in the world only a small minority of cases are cleared by arrest. Even for offenses like domestic violence, where the victim knows she has been victimized and by whom, reports to the police followed by admissions of guilt are extremely rare. Of course, if restorative justice does reduce the crime rate, many people who would otherwise have been victimized get a benefit. But restorative justice may have nothing to offer the overwhelming majority of citizens who are actually victimized by crime. The documented volume of unapprehended white-collar crime and domestic violence alone (Braithwaite and Pettit 1990, chap. 9) makes it easy to demonstrate that it would be foolishly optimistic

-137-

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Restorative Justice and Responsive Regulation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xiii
  • 1: The Fall and Rise of Restorative Justice 3
  • 2: Responsive Regulation 29
  • 3: Does Restorative Justice Work? 45
  • 4: Theories That Might Explain Why Restorative Justice Works 73
  • 5: Worries About Restorative Justice 137
  • 6: World Peacemaking 169
  • 7: Sustainable Development 211
  • 8: Transforming the Legal System 239
  • References 269
  • Index 297
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