Restorative justice is based on mutual respect and inclusion through dialogue. This approach may be threatened in current severe times, characterized by rampant individualism and mutual distrust. In crime and justice issues, exclusion and punishment are pushing away approaches based on inclusion and persuasion. In such a socio-cultural climate, restorative justice is threatened indeed to being co-opted as an extension to the predominant punitive and controlling tendency. However, countervailing forces persist in social life, social practice, and in the arts. A social-scientific tendency is also aware of its social responsibility and seeks to serve the quality of social life based on more mutual respect, solidarity, and taking active responsibility. Restorative justice can be a part of these countervailing forces, if it safeguards its roots in this socio-ethical groundstream. It may be a spearhead of what we can call a “criminology of trust,” a criminology that understands that all policy regarding crime and justice issues must be grounded in respect, inclusion, and persuasion. Particularly, restorative justice’s contribution to this is twofold. First, it offers a realistic and more positive alternative to detrimental punitiveness. Second, it contributes to de-dramatizing and demystifying the image of crime and criminals to more realistic dimensions (which are in themselves serious enough).
Restorative Justice in Severe Times: Threatened or an Opportunity?
Lode Walgrave is emeritus professor of criminology at the University Leuven (Belgium). His main teachings were on Youth Criminology and Theoretical Criminology. He has published several books and many chapters and articles on restorative justice. He has been the chair of the International Network for Research on Restorative Justice. Lode.firstname.lastname@example.org
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Lode Walgrave; Restorative Justice in Severe Times: Threatened or an Opportunity?. New Criminal Law Review 1 November 2019; 22 (4): 618–644. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/nclr.2019.22.4.618
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