Restorative Justice and Restitution
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Morals and values are considered to be the same to majority of the people in the society. Values or ethics, however is considered to be the standards that are set within a society and portrays how the views of other people can be considered to be right or wrong, either at the workplace, in the social circles or even nationally (Van Ness, & Strong, 2013). Morals on the other hand are considered to be independent to every individual since they originate from matters of belief, choices and religion. Morals deal with the making of either right or wrong, fair or unfair decisions, honest or dishonest choices that have a direct impact on the religion or belief of an individual (Zehr, 2002).
The theories of morality that play a role in this case include the theory of utilitariansm, whereby it is considered to be morally good for the majority (Zehr, Mika, & Umbreit, 1997). The other theory is the theory of moral courage, which is considered to be to be the main pillar of ethics. Moral courage requires that one makes steadfast commitment to principles that are ethical and fundamental despite facing issues such as potential risks, shame, loss of reputation, isolation, emotional anxiety, retaliation and even loss of employment (Umbreit, 1989). Tough and morally right decisions have to be made despite the consequences.
The concept of restorative justice and restitution is an approach that is mainly focused on the various needs that victims of crime and the offenders have as well as the community within which people live in (Zehr, 2002). The aim and purpose of restorative justice and restitution is not just to satisfy the principles of the legal process or punishment to the offender but to satisfy the needs of the offenders as well as that of the victims (Van Ness, & Strong, 2013). The restorative justice and restitution is based on the theory of justice. This theory simply considers wrongdoing and crime as an offense that is committed against a community and an individual and not the state (Zehr, 2002).
The legal process, as much as its purpose is to serve justice where it is due, does not aim at increasing animosity and hatred in the society and hence the reason for restorative justice and restitution. It is important for people to live in harmony and get along (Zehr, Mika, & Umbreit, 1997). The process that is involved in restorative justice does not aim at benefiting the offender but to bring people together, the victims as well as the offenders and find peace and harmony in the society. Everyone in the society should be ready to support a process that encourages harmony and nit promote hatred and animosity hence restorative justice and restitution plays a major role in building a better society for the future (Umbreit, 1989).
The ethical issues that are related to the concept of restorative justice and restitution include the issue of forgiveness between the people that have been affected by the actions of the offender (Zehr, 2002). Another ethical issue that is involved with regard to restorative justice and restitution is that a crime is not committed against the state but rather against the victims and the society (Van Ness, & Strong, 2013). The needs in addition to the issues that the victims have as well as the offenders need to be considered to promote harmony in the society. The other ethical issue to be considered under restorative justice is whether offenders should be given a second chance in the society and allowed to make things right with the victims of their offenses (Umbreit, 1989).
Restorative justice also has its implications in the long run. The implications of restorative justice and restitution include increased accountability in the society; restoration and improvement of relationships in the society hence reduce chances of future offenses in terms of retaliations and revenge (Zehr, 2002). Furthermore, restorative justice has the implication of restoring trust and helping in the growth of long term relationships in the community and between the people involved in the whole process (Umbreit, 1989). Long-term safety and building of confidence is also another implication of restorative justice that will be achieved.
The approach that will be suitable in reaching the decision on whether to meet the convicted murder would be through counselling sessions for the family members and through seeking of information from people or families that have had an experience with restorative justice (Van Ness, & Strong, 2013). The needs and concerns of each family member will need to be addressed and find out their views about the meeting and what they would want done differently. Counselling sessions for the family members will help build their confidence and gradually acceptance of the loss of the loved one (Zehr, 2002). After the counselling sessions, regular meetings should be conducted with the family members to discuss on whether to allow for the meeting or to refuse the meeting.
The steps to undertake in approaching the decision making process will involve calling for a family meeting whereby all members should be present. Every family member is to be given a chance to air their views and their opinions based on the theory of moral courage and virtues (Umbreit, 1989). After the family meeting, it would be important to contact the member of the Victim’s Group and discuss the conditions under which the meeting would be held if it will take place and establish the final motive why the convict wants the meeting (Zehr, Mika, & Umbreit, 1997). After that, have another family meeting and analyze the findings based on moral values and in the spirit of restorative justice (Zehr, 2002). This will lead to a decision of meeting the convict since the benefits of the meeting outweigh lack of the meeting. The possible questions would only be two main questions and that includes:
What exactly led the convict to commit the crime and did the victim deserve to die in such a manner?
What would the convict have done if his situation was reversed?
Restorative justice and restitution is beneficial in the society and helps in avoiding continued criminality within a society. However, it should not be over exercised since criminals may tend to take advantage of the same to continue committing heinous crimes. The full force of the law should also play a major role in curbing crimes in the society.
Umbreit, M. S. (1989). Crime victims seeking fairness, not revenge: Toward restorative justice. Fed. Probation, 53, 52.
Umbreit, M. S., Coates, R. B., & Kalanj, B. (1994). Victim meets offender: The impact of restorative justice and mediation (pp. 53-64). Monsey, NY: Criminal Justice Press.
Van Ness, D. W., & Strong, K. H. (2013). Restoring justice: An introduction to restorative justice. Newnes.
Zehr, H. (2002). The little book of restorative justice. Intercourse, PA: Good books.
Zehr, H., Mika, H., & Umbreit, M. (1997). Restorative justice: The concept. Corrections Today, 59, 68-71.