A Theory Of Restorative Justice Essay example

813 Words Apr 17th, 2016 4 Pages
If harsher punishments worked, arguably America would lead the world in crime reduction. But despite a prison population that doubled between 1980 and 1990 (Christie, p.229), the crime rate in that country continues to increase. In fact, only one country in the world has actually managed to reduce their crime rate – that country is Japan, having also lowest per capita imprisonment rate in the world. The Japanese have attributed their success to the process of reintegrative shaming, a process of confession, repentance and absolution. Where deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation are all seen to have been less than successful, any solution to crime control demands our consideration. This essay looks at one such solution, a theory of restorative justice, and examines various strengths, weaknesses and criticisms of such a theory.

According to Braithwaite, shame plays a key role in the regulation of social behavior (Braithwaite, 1989). The majority of people have an ‘anxiety response’ to deviant behavior and this response makes most criminal behavior abhorrent to them. It is fear of this response, not the threat of the criminal justice system, which stops people from committing crime. Such internal control is a powerful tool that begins in the family, where “morals are clearly drawn and evil deeds identified”. But even when this internal control fails us, a second form of shaming – external, social disapproval by persons whose acceptance we value, serves to…

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