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Taking the Sincerity Out of Saying Sorry: Restorative Justice as Ritual

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In this paper I take seriously von Hirsch's view that sanctions imposed on offenders need to be compatible with their dignity, and argue that some versions of restorative justice — notably that defended by Braithwaite — can put offenders in the humiliating position of having to make apologies that they do not believe in in order to avoid further bad consequences. Drawing on recent work by Duff I argue that this problem can be avoided by conceiving of restorative justice as an apologetic ritual. This view gives some ground to von Hirsch but presents a view of criminal justice that is distinctively restorative. I conclude by drawing out the differences between my account and that of Duff.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Dept of Philosophy, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK

Publication date: 2006-05-01

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