Various approaches to justice abound. The two main approaches are the retributive and restorative justice. Spuy, Parmentier & Dissel (2007) indicate that restorative justice is an approach to justice, which seeks to lessen the tension between the offenders and victims. This approach to justice promotes a face-to-face interaction between the offenders and the victims for enabling justice to prevail. The process also aims at forgiveness; thus, the interaction between the victims and the offenders is intended to dispel any fears and promote forgiveness. On the other hand, retributive justice is an approach to justice that advocates for the punishment of the offenders. According to the tenets of retributive justice, offenders have to be punished in order to restore the dignity of the victims. Thus, differences that abound between restorative and retributive justice will be discussed in the paragraphs below. Spuy, Parmentier & Dissel (2007) assert that restorative justice is a good approach for forgiveness and healing since it allows a face-to-face interaction and avails the victim an opportunity to decide the degree of punishment that an offender should be subjected. This paper explores the differences between retributive and restorative justice. The paper also explores the effectiveness of restorative justice as an instrument for promoting healing and forgiveness. Lastly, the paper explores the effectiveness of restorative justice in Canada.
Various differences abound between retributive and restorative justice. The first difference abounds regarding the way the two approaches view the crime. Retributive justice deems crime as a violation of state law. The approach defines the crime as an abstract idea whereas restorative justice deems crime as a violation of human right. Alternatively, crime is a violation against a community. Secondly, the way the two approaches prefer punishment is differs. While retributive justice seeks to punish the offender, restorative justice promotes reconciliation through an offender taking responsibility for the wrongdoing and consenting to repair the harm. The third difference abounds from the fact that retributive justice considers victims of a crime as peripheral to the process while restorative justice allows victims to be central to the process of seeking justice. Another difference regards the effectiveness of the process. Zernova (2007) asserts that retributive justice is effective basing on the fact that punishment is aimed at deterring crime and changing behavior while restorative crime does not condone these tenets. Restorative justice deems punishment as disrupting the harmony of a community and works against nurturing of good relationships. One more difference emanates from the fact that retributive justice has professional involvement, as they are the ones versed with the law. On the other hand, restorative justice depends on the direct involvement of the participants. Zernova (2007) asserts that retributive justice emphasizes on the adversarial relationships because it deems an offender as a dangerous person in the community who should not interact freely with the population. On the other hand, restorative justice advocates for the dialogue and negotiation. This promotes harmony as the offender and victim get an opportunity to meet and clear their differences. Restorative justice seeks to change the behavior of an offender considering the fact that the offender will stay in the community; thus, laying a good relationship in the future. This differs from retributive justice, which focuses on the past behavior of an offender.
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Restorative justice is effective for forgiveness and healing basing that it allows the face-to-face interaction of an offender and the victim. In addition, restitution gives a basis for healing. Research opines that forgiveness is achieved in restorative justice through the face-to-face interaction of the victim and the offender. The fact is that the two parties are allowed to interact, the stories are usually told from both sides, which focus on the reasons why the offender orchestrated the acts on the victim and the pain that the victim underwent under acts. This allows for a deeper understanding between the victim and the offender and the fact that the offender takes the opportunity to tender his/her unreserved apology abounds forgiveness. On the other hand, healing abounds from the fact that the offender consents to compensate the victim. This is christened as restitution. Thus, different quarters advance that restitution plays a significant role in ensuring that a victim is compensated, and this promotes healing because the offender suffers to a certain extent in recompensing the victim (CBC News, 2011).
Telling of the stories can help heal the survivors of the schools, their families and the Canadian public through letting out the pain they underwent in front of the perpetrators. Healing comes from the fact that the perpetrators sit in a circle facing the victims who share their stories and experiences from what they underwent at the hands of their offenders. This will help to heal the survivors, as they will let out all that has been haunting them for a long time. This will also heal the families of the victims, as the victims are liable to determine the type of restitution they deem will recompense them from the pain they suffered. On the other hand, the Canadian public will be healed from the fact that they will know the truth regarding the history of their country; thus, they will not judge anyone (CBC News, 2011).
In conclusion, differences abound between restorative and retributive justice. Some of the differences center on involvement in the process of justice, compensation and punishment, which crime is directed to and effectiveness of the two approaches. Restorative justice facilitates healing and forgiveness through facilitating restitution and sharing of the stories respectively. Sharing of the stories allows the perpetrators to get privy with the pain they caused their victims and take the opportunity to beg for forgiveness.
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