Compulsory Compassion: A Critique of Restorative Justice
Restorative justice is often touted as the humane and politically progressive alternative to the rigid philosophy of retributive punishment that underpins many of the world's judicial systems. Emotionally seductive, its rhetoric appeals to a desire for a "right-relation" among individuals and communities, an offers us a vision of justice that allows for the mutual healing of victim and offender, and with it, a sense of communal repair.
In Compulsory Compassion, Annalise Acorn, a one-time advocate for restorative justice, deconstructs the rhetoric of the restorative movement. Drawing from diverse legal, literary, philosophical, and autobiographical sources, she questions the fundamental assumptions behind that rhetoric: that we can trust wrongdoers' performances of contrition; that healing lies in a respectful, face-to-face encounter between victim and offender; and that the restorative idea of right-relation holds the key to a reconciliation of justice and accountability on the one hand, with love and compassion on the other.
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