From the perspective of the conventional model

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restorative models. From the perspective of the conventional model, important questions include: What laws or rules were broken?, Who broke them?, and What do they deserve? When the lens is adjusted to focus restoratively rather than retributively (Zehr, 1990), important questions become, Who has been hurt?, What are their needs?, and Who has the obligation to address the needs and put right the harm? 1 Interested readers are referred to much more detailed discussions of criminal justice history in, for example, Braithwaite (2002) and Cunneen (2007).
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4 February 2013 Volume 20(1) The Prevention Researcher Introducing Restorative Justice: Re-Visioning Responses to Wrongdoing, continued Restorative justice invites us to consider other outcomes in addition to recidivism. ©Alexander Raths/iStockphoto.com Viewed through a retributive lens, wrongdoings are seen as discrete events through which laws or rules are broken. The event activates a search for facts to prove the innocence or guilt of the alleged offender relative to the system of laws codified over centuries ( What laws have been broken? ). During this process, the wrongdoing becomes increasingly removed from its contextual social dynamics and the focus narrows on the alleged wrongdoer ( Who broke them? ). When guilt is established, consequences are largely pre-determined through reference to classifications of sentences. The primary strategy in response to wrongdoing is punishment ( What do they deserve? ). Retributive justice requires that harms be understood relative to states’ legal codes rather than victims’ experiences; it is the state rather than the victim(s) that holds the wrongdoer accountable. Applications of restorative practices have transformative potential in diverse context. As exposed by Zehr’s three questions, restorative justice varies from its retributive counterpart in its conceptualization of wrongdoing, whose needs should be paramount in the aftermath, and who should be responsible for making things right. Crime, or wrongdoing generally, is understood as harm to social relationships. Because wrongdoing, its impact, and its repair are seen as occurring among people (rather than against the state), restorative justice is considered a relational approach that privileges human needs rather than state needs (Sullivan & Tifft, 2006). Regardless of a pre-existing relationship between the person(s) responsible for and the person(s) harmed by a wrongdoing, the assumption of social equality affords everyone “equal dignity, concern, and respect” (Llewellyn & Howse, 1998, p. 25). Restorative justice is oriented towards re-establishing equality in social relationships and helping all involved understand that identities as “offender” and “victim” are not the only available alternatives.
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  • Spring '10
  • AliciaDembowski
  • Handbook of Restorative Justice, Restorative Justice Movement

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