The Virtues of Restorative Processes, the Vices of "Restorative Justice"
This conference and symposium are important for their ability to make better known the great benefits in the use of restorative processes. Below I try to summarize some of the many promising achievements of those processes, by which I mean to include such practices as victim-offender mediation, sentencing circles, and family group conferences to name just the most common. While many people refer to such processes by the name "Restorative Justice," that term and its originators in fact have a more ambitious agenda than simply encouraging the use of such restorative processes. But that agenda is not one that the front-line practitioners of restorative processes necessarily share. It is primarily an anti-justice agenda, which prompts impassioned opposition to restorative processes. In this brief essay I try to explain why this is so and why it need not be so. I'll argue that restorative processes can and should be used more widely in ways entirely consistent with doing justice, and that the best thing for the restorative processes movement would be to publicly disavow the anti-justice agenda of the "Restorative Justice" movement.