The principles of the restorative justice and my indirect experience – Law Essay
Intro – This paper is not only the summery of what I have learned from books and lectures in class, but also the presentation of what I have indirectly experienced in several years ago. First, I summarize what the restorative justice is and which differences it is in comparing with the retributive justice. Second, I summarize not only the problem of the retributive justice, but also the principles of the main themes of restorative justice; victims, offenders, and community. Finally, I describe my experience in related with the criminal justice and present my suggestion.
There are several basic theories regarding the criminal justice: the retributive justice, the restorative justice, psychiatric imprisonment (therapeutic interventions) , transformative justice. The restorative justice is the alternative way of the retributive justice which has a lot of problems. The main concern of the retributive justice is fixing blame, or establishing guilt, and who hold responsible for such crime. There are three central criticisms of the retributive justice. First, this system is too backward-looking or oriented toward past; it is too fixated with addressing the past and insufficiently focused on the future. Second, the enormous hardship and stigma we place on those found legally guilty influences many perpetrators of crime to deny guilty. Third, the individualistic conception of blame which tends to be expressed through the retributive justice is so at odds with the way most offenders evaluate their own conduct that it stands little chance of influencing them to accept accountability.
The restorative justice assumes that the victim or their heirs or neighbors can be in some way restored to a condition “just as good as” before the criminal incident. Substantially it builds on traditions in common law and tort law that require all who commit wrong to be penalized. In recent time these penalties that the restorative justice advocates have included community service, restitution, and alternatives to imprisonment that keep the offender active in the community, and re-socialized him into society.
When we are under attack by those who wear black mask with knife, we are paralyzed initially, unable to act, move. It called “frozen-fear compliance.” After being in “impact” phase, victims are in “recoil” phrase, and got anger.
During the weeks following the attack, victims tried to find the way of overcoming his or her situation. Otherwise, their family or friends do not want to talk with the crime or hesitate to remember the crime and the offenders. In order to surmount the memories of the crime, victims try to find a wrong way, such as drugs and alcohol. They are in traumatic situation.
Why are victims so traumatic? The violations break the world view and the personality of victims. Victims must be recovered from the horrible situation. How could victims recover their lost faith toward world and human? In order to recover their life, victims need to move from the “recoil” phase to a “reorganization” phase, also they need to move from being victims to being survivors. Moreover, the needs of victims are the repayment which is much more than they lost. They need the answering or information why it happens, why them, and why victims have to do in such situation. Victims should have chance to express their emotions and have to be empowered. Finally, they must experience justice.
Moreover, the proponents of the restorative justice suggest that victims should involve in the criminal justice process so that they can be reformed. “Such reforms provide victims with an opportunity to explain how the crime has affected them materially and psychologically and to express their feelings in the justice process, and they also empower victims.”
Can the punishment of offenders in the retributive justice system make victims recover their life and faith? It is very important issue of the crime justice that the punishment can effectively recover victims and offenders or make it worse. The Punishment of offenders in the retributive justice system is not always an adequate decision for victims. Punishment may sometimes prevent healing. Some victims not only worry about the revenge of offenders or their associates, but also feel responsible for offenders’ punishment and experience guilt. On the other hand, in the punitive system, the process of conviction is taken so long that offenders can easily have a chance to escape from punishment by employing lawyer without any repayment. Because of these problems, the proponents of the restorative justice are straining to find an alternative way of punishment system.
When offenders stand trial and serve their term in prison, what happen to them? In trial, they are bystanders. They can not easily involve in the process of the conviction. In the prison, they can not learn what is expected such as human value, love, endurance, mercy, and so on. They misunderstand that violence is a normal thing, a solving method of problem, and a survival tool. Moreover, they become physical and sexual victims. Finally, they are unfortunately convinced that the violence is the basic need of life. It is the way of the survival in the oppressed prison. They dehumanize themselves, rebel against others, and become devious persons. In short, they become worse criminals or those who have more highly possibility to be offenders.
If so, what are offenders expected to learn and have? What do they need to learn? Offenders need to learn that he is someone of worth, that he has the power and responsibility to make good choices. Offenders need to learn respect for others and their property. They need to learn to cope peacefully with frustration and conflict, the need coping skills. Moreover, offenders need to have accountability for their wrongdoing. They should not only know their doing is wrong but also be punished for their crime.
As I said above, a punishment system does not work effectively. The punishment should not only let offenders find out their wrongdoing but also prohibit offenders from committing an error again. Otherwise, recently, the system of punishment can not complete its own aim. On the contrary, the punishment system makes offenders become victims.
There are two reasons why community is very important for the process of the restorative justice; “first, the offender’s community is the entity with the most power to influence the offender to repair the harm he or she has caused and to refrain from further anti-social behavior and also an entity which can provide support which offenders will need in their efforts to go straight. Second, involving the community in the handling of criminal conflicts between its members is seen as a way of empowering communities.”
My relatives’ story which I have indirectly experienced.
Because I have no experience of the criminal justice, I am going to write about the story of my relatives. Their family business is the rice package delivering like a pizza delivery. Father used to ride a motorcycle to delivery it. At that tragically day, he stopped at the pedestrian crossing with the rice package. Suddenly, the drunken driver drove his car toward him and crashed him. The bone of his right leg was broken pieces. After he went through an operation several times in a hospital, he finally becomes a lame person.
The drunken driver was a poor 22 year-old young man. Accidentally, His father is a lame person too. He was subsidized by the government for living. This drunken driver was waiting to go to an army for performing his duty.
After this accident, the offender was caught by police and was on trial. The judge sentenced the offender to one year at the prison. He can’t go to the army anymore , and his name was updated in the blacklists of the government.
Because the offender had no insurance, the victim had to pay all the money charged for an operation. They had to sail his rice store for saving money. The family of victim not only lost a lot of money, but also incurred a lot of debts. In short, the victim lost his leg, money, house, and incurred debts,
The court and community does not care about whether the victim lost his life or not. The family of the victim needs money to get over this tragedy. The court decided that the offender was to blame or repaid money. The offender had no money for repaying. Because he did not have enough money, he went to the jail.
If this criminal justice was processed under the paradigm of the restorative justice, rather than the retributive justice, the different consequences would be happened. The first important point is what the needs of victim are; the charge for an operation, a medical fee, and the money to live on. If they are compensated enough money from the offender or the insurance company, they would not sell their family store and their house, and would not incur a lot of debts. Furthermore, in the restorative justice paradigm, the offender should work hard to earn the money, should give the victimized family enough money, and should help them to secure their livelihood, rather than just be gone to the prison. Besides, the community which let the drunken driver drive freely, which let the driver without a proper insurance drive freely, would recognize the accountability of this case. The community should support materially and mentally to revive their life and to survive in the money oriented society.
I have researched the principle of the restorative justice in comparing with the retributive justice in the first part. In the second part, I have defined what victims’ needs are, what offenders’ needs are, and what community’s needs are. My relatives’ story which I have indirectly experienced is described in the third part. Furthermore, in the view of restorative justice paradigm, I suggest the alternative way of solving this particular case.
Cayley, David. The Expanding Prison. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 1998.
Johnstone, Gerry. Restorative Justice. Devon: Willan Publishing, 2002.
Zehr, Howard. Changing Lenses. 3rd ed. Scottdale: Herald Press, 2005.