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Restorative nursing: toward a philosophy of postmodern punishment

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Nursing practice in correctional settings is ethically unique. Its premise is the contradiction between causing harm (the purpose of imprisonment) and acting for patients’ good (the purpose of health care). I describe three ethical regions in which correctional nurses can practise, based on different philosophies: punishment as retribution, as rationality, and as paradox. Retribution and rationality resolve the ethical contradiction by relegating offenders to intractable otherness. Restorative nursing based on paradox is an oppositional practice that preserves the contradiction, making engagement possible between prisoner and nurse. Endorsement by nursing of one of the three philosophies of punishment could redefine care for the entire profession.

Keywords: corrections; oppositional practice; postmodern nursing; prison nursing; restorative justice

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Professor, School of Nursing, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO, USA

Publication date: 2003-07-01

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