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We all know about the “normal” interpersonal justice and even concepts of distributive justice, but today I learned about “Restorative Justice“:

Restorative justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused or revealed by criminal behaviour. It is best accomplished through cooperative processes that include all stakeholders.

There is no doubt in my mind that we are soon on our way to redefining what criminal behavior is. When does “being wealthy” fall into that category?

4 Responses to “I Learned About a New Form of Justice Today”

  1. Professor, you seem to offer a dense subtext in your closing comment: “There is no doubt in my mind that we are soon on our way to redefining what criminal behavior is. When does “being wealthy” fall into that category?” I find that curious. Nothing in restoration justice changes the actual harms that most people in most times and places recognize as interpersonal crimes. What restoration attempts is to (1) restore the victim, of course but also (2) remediate the perpetrator by getting them to confront their victim, apologize, acknowledge the wrong and theharm, and make amends as possible or necessary. The website you recommended was loaded with papers. I find the root of this theory in the works of JOHN BRAITHWAITE and I wrote a term paper on this subject for a graduate class in criminology theory. It is archived here on Google Docs.

    Interesting enough, given your apparent fear that this will lead to some persecution of the wealthy, Braithwaite hit upon this idea while researching government regulation of Australian pharmaceutical manufacturers. You go in with a warrant, you meet a lawyer, and nothing happens for a long time and at great expense to all. You go in for a cup of coffee with the plant manager and you can usually win voluntary compliance. The discussion gets serious when the plant manager acknowledges the harm caused by failing to follow the regulations. Braithwaite notes that it does not go that way at all in America.

    On the personal level, any police chief will tell you that 80% of your problems come from 20% of your addresses in every neighborhood. We harm each other. Burglary is good example; and frequently, it is a juvenile with no real goal. Traditionally, the only predictable outcome from contact with the criminal justice system is continued contact with the criminal justice system. However, often enough when the perpertrator meets their victim, it is not the victim who breaks down crying. And granted some perpetrators have much deeper problems and perhaps incarceration is the only alternative. But you try remediation first. It often works. It is not a panacea because no such thing exists; but it is a better solution for many problems.

  2. Harry says:

    The key word is “stakeholders.” Who gave them a right to other people’s property?

    “Stakeholders” is a term I used to encounter often in the Chairman’s letter to the stockholders in the glossy annual report, which would show a picture of the board, at least three or four of which held, say, fifteen thousand dollars’ worth of stock. They represented the stakeholders, often along with ten vice presidents in management who, along with the Chairman, usually owned less cumulatively of five percent of the stock in the company. The object more often than not was to enrich all employees, including idle labor and management, and throw a few meaty bones of several millions to local charities to appease the press. This is management for the stakeholders.

    Before I get too cynical, there have been many companies that have been managed for the stockholders. They are the ones surviving and prospering today, and I do not mean prospering because of their stock market capitatilization, but because they earn honest money. There I go, begging the question.

    I have zero sympathy for “stakeholders.” Stakeholders never risked their time or their money to build the business across the street, risking anything. Stakeholders are parasites, remoras, leeches, when they ask for more than what their employer, often themselves, contracted to pay them. I do not begrudge them reward for their work, but they are not entitled to the rewards of owners.

    I doubt that soon our government will make prosperity illegal, but if we are like sheep the man on a horse can make a quick proclamation. It happened in Germany and Russia, both less than a century ago. In both situations was impoverishment.

  3. Harry says:


    WordPress did it again, blocked me as spam on my once-cool phone.

    Should I go to AT&T and complain about a corrupted IP address? There is no reason I can think of that should block me as spam. I hate sending WC email about this; we have to save his energy to save Western Civilization.

  4. I do not know what motivated Harry’s reply in 2 above. In community corrections, stakeholders and the secondary and tertiary victims. For instance, say four young men, not all of them juveniles break in to a store. They are caught because in a neighborhood, everyone knows everything. Among those involved are not just the store owner but the owners of the others stores whom the gang threatens by extentsion, and not just the parents of the minors, but the families of each of the four, as they, too, are stakeholders. The police can be kept at arm’s length, but still are stakeholders as having primary responsibilty for law and order: if the offiers did not know the youths before, they surely do now.

    Restorative justice is not an isolated tool, but an integrated methodology that works with community corrections, and depends on reintegrative shaming. The RED HOOK COMMUNITY JUSTICE CENTER is perhaps the most famous example, now over a decade in practice.

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