[Answered]Differentiate between retributive justice and restorative justice. Discuss why restorative justice is as important as retributive justice?

Demand of the question

Introduction. What is retributive and restorative justice.

Body. Difference between retributive justice and restorative justice. Need of retributive justice and why restorative justice is equally important?

Conclusion. Way forward.

Retributive justice is defined as a form of justice that focuses on punishment of the offender, and not on the rehabilitation. It is more so focused on just punishing the wrongdoer rather than trying to help them in any way or seeing them as someone who made a mistake. Restorative justice, however, is meant to rehabilitate and get the offender back into society while focusing on the victims of the crime. In this the offender is being rehabilitated to fit for the societal norms and laws.

Difference between retributive justice and restorative justice:

Retributive JusticeRestorative Justice
Here crime is viewed mainly as an act against the state, a violation of a law.Crime is viewed as an act against another person and the community.
Here the main argument is that, threats of punishment deter crime and punishment changes behaviour.Punishment alone is not effective in changing behaviour and is disruptive to community harmony and good relationships.
Crime is an individual act with individual responsibility.Crime has both individual and social dimensions of responsibility.
Focus on establishing blame or guilt, on the past (did he/she do it?).Focus on the problem solving, on liabilities/obligations, on the future (what should be done?)
Emphasis on adversarial relationship.Emphasis on dialogue and negotiation.
Imposition of pain to punish and deter/prevent is the main tool of justice.Restitution as a means of restoring both parties; goal of restoration is a major focus.
Community on sideline, represented abstractly by state.Community as facilitator in restorative process.
Response focused on offender’s past behaviour.Response focused on harmful consequences of offender’s behaviour and emphasis is on the future.
Offender accountability defined in term of punishment.Accountability is defined as assuming responsibility and taking action to repair harm.
The criminal justice system controls the crime.Crime control lies primarily in the community.
Retributive justice focuses on punishing an offence.Restorative justice focuses on repairing the harm caused by the crime.
Retributive justice is characterised by adversarial relations among the parties.Restorative justice is characterised by dialogue and negotiation among the parties.
Retributive justice assumes that state or government play a more active role than community.Restorative justice assumes that community members or organizations play a more active role.

Need of retributive justice:

  1. The Criminal Justice System in India has many loopholes. It does not deter criminals because of the delay and uncertainties involved in its processes and ridiculously ineffective punishments it imposes on those few who get convicted.
  2. It provides wide discretion to the police and the prosecution, rendering the system vulnerable to corruption and manipulation and endangering basic rights of innocent citizens.
  3. Criminal justice system ignores the real victim, often compelling him/her to find extralegal methods of getting justice.
  4. It also puts heavy economic costs on the state for its maintenance without commensurate benefits in return.
  5. Retributive justice reduces crime victims’ post-traumatic stress symptoms and the related costs.
  6. Retributive justice also reduces the victims’ desire for violent revenge against their offenders.

Why restorative justice is equally important?

  1. It substantially reduces repeat offending for some offenders, although not all.
  2. It helps reduce the costs of criminal justice.
  3. It provides both victims and offenders with more satisfaction that justice had been done than did traditional criminal justice.
  4. Restorative justice processes pay attention not only to the harm inflicted on the victims of a crime, but also to the ways the crime has harmed the offender and the community.
  5. With restorative justice, everyone begins to feel included in what’s going on – whether it’s the offender being rehabilitated, the victim healing, or the community being restored. This cannot be said for retributive justice, as there is no focus on the victim of the crime.

Crime and violence constitute a major impediment for development and social integration for a plural society like India. The Retributive model of criminal justice, with punishing the offender as its only aim, has proved costly and counterproductive. When it comes to which is the most effective, it seems that restorative justice covers all the areas needed. It allows the community to heal, the victim to be repaid, and the offender to learn the error of his or her ways. The same cannot be said for retributive justice, as the only focus there is punishment. India needs to experiment with more democratic models aimed at reconciliation and restoration of relationships.

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