Explaining the Theory of Restorative Justice

The concept of restorative justice has many different branches that one must understand in order to fully grasp the reasoning and objectives of restorative justice. There are many different theories that helped mold the structure and belief in the theory of restorative justice. In this paper we will discuss:

– The differences between the structural theory of restorative justice and the instrumental theory of restorative justice.

– The concept, as well as, the pros and cons of the power-control theory, and the critical feminist theory, and how they help to form critical criminology.

– The concept of left realism, how it relates to crime, how it is used to help control crime, and most importantly, how the concept of left realism relates to the concept of restorative justice.

– The concept of peacemaking as well as, how many advocates of this branch of restorative justice, believe that it is the most important branch of restorative justice.

Key Terms

Before diving into discussion of the above mentioned topics we must first find an understanding of and discuss the scientific definitions of the following terms:

– Structural Theory: The view that criminal law and the criminal justice system are means of defending and preserving the capitalist system. Holding to the belief that the justice system is designed to maintain the status quo and is used to punish the wealthy, as well as members of the lower class, when they break the rules governing capitalism. (Criminology, Siegel)

– Instrumental Theory: The view that criminal law and the criminal justice system are capitalist instruments for controlling the lower class. Holding to the belief that those in authority wield their power to control society and keep the lower classes in check. (Criminology, Siegel)

– Power-Control Theory: The view that gender differences in crime are a function of economic power (class position, one-earner versus two-earner families) and paternal control (paternalistic versus egalitarian families).

– Critical Feminism: Scholars, both male and female, who focus on the effects of gender inequality and the unequal power of men and women in a capitalist society.

– Critical Criminology: The view that capitalism produces haves and have-nots, each engaging in a particular branch of criminality. The mode of production shapes social life. Because economic competitiveness is the essence of capitalism, conflict increases and eventually destabilizes social institutions and the individuals within them.

– Left Realism: An approach that views crime as a function of relative deprivation under capitalism and that favors pragmatic, community-based crime prevention and control. Left realism sees crime as a function of relative deprivation under capitalism and views the justice system as necessary to protect the lower classes until a socialist society can be developed, which will end crime. (Criminology, Siegel)

– Peacemaking: An approach that considers punitive crime control strategies to be counterproductive and favors the use of humanistic conflict resolution to prevent and control crime. Peacemaking criminology brings a call for humanism to criminology. The restorative justice model holds that reconciliation rather than retribution should be applied to prevent and control crime. Restoration programs are now being used around the country in schools, justice agencies, and community forums. They employ mediation, sentencing circles, and other techniques. (