Fictions of Restorative Justice

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In this paper, I argue that scholars such as John Braithwaite and Lode Walgrave rely on fictions when presenting their utopian vision of restorative justice. Three claims in particular are shown to be fictitious. Proponents of restorative justice maintain, first, that the offender and the victim voluntarily attend the restorative conference. Second, that the restorative conference enables the offender and the victim to take on active responsibility. Third, that the reparatory tasks on which the parties agree should not be understood in terms of the intentional infliction of harm. These fictions, so I argue, are not merely a mistake, but instead serve an important function: the various parties need to believe that they adequately capture the reality of the restorative conference as they are more likely to acquiesce if they believe the fictions to be true. I conclude that the fictions are the driving force within the restorative endeavour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-281
Number of pages17
JournalCriminal Law and Philosophy
Issue number1
Early online date22 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


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