A Restorative Theory of Criminal Justice
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In this project, I defend a restorative theory of criminal justice. I argue that the response to criminal wrongdoing in a just society should take the form of an attempt to heal the damage done to the community resulting from crime. I argue that the moral responsibilities of wrongdoers as wrongdoers ought to provide the framework for how a just society should respond to crime. Following the work of R.A. Duff, I argue that wrongdoers incur second-order duties of moral recognition. Wrongdoers owe it to others to recognize their wrongdoing for what it is, i.e. wrongdoing, and to shoulder certain burdens in order to express their repentant recognition to others via a meaningful apology. In short, wrongdoers owe it to their victims and others in the community to make amends. What I will deny, however, is the now familiar claim in the restorative justice literature that restoring the normative relationships in the community damaged by criminal forms of wrongdoing requires retributive punishment. In my view, how we choose to express the judgement that wrongdoers are blameworthy should flow from an all things considered judgment that is neither reducible to the judgement that the wrongdoer is culpably responsible for wronging others, nor the judgement that the wrongdoer in some basic sense “deserves to suffer” (or “deserves punishment,” etc.).