Difference Between Restorative Justice & Retributive Justice

Restorative Justice vs Retributive Justice

The distinction between Restorative Justice and Retributive Justice may not be familiar to many people. These terms represent two theories of justice applied in the criminal justice system of a country, however, their practical application might differ between jurisdictions. Restorative Justice involves both the offender and the victim, whereas Retributive Justice only involves the offender.

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative Justice is a participatory process involving all people affected by a particular offense, such as victims, offenders, and the community. The process aims to restore the parties affected by a crime. The objectives of Restorative Justice include victim healing, offender rehabilitation and accountability, victim empowerment, reconciliation, reparation of harm caused, community involvement, and resolution of the conflict between all parties concerned. Active participation by all parties is essential. Restorative Justice typically follows a negotiation or mediation process and focuses equally on all three parties affected by a crime. It promotes a more victim/community-centered response, serving as a forum for the victim, offender, and community to discuss and resolve their issues, concerns, and needs. The process also involves all parties settling on an agreed course of action and encourages the offender to be accountable for their actions by repairing the harm caused. This reparation can be in the form of rehabilitation, community service, or any other form. Restorative Justice views a crime as an act committed against an individual or community rather than the state.

Key Takeaways

  • Restorative justice focuses on rehabilitation of the offender, victim healing, and reparation of harm caused.
  • Retributive justice focuses on punishment, proportionate to the crime committed.
  • Restorative justice involves the victim and community, while retributive justice only involves the offender.

What is Retributive Justice?

Retributive Justice is a theory of justice founded on the idea of punishment. It is sometimes referred to as a system of justice that focuses on the punishment of the offender rather than their rehabilitation. Traditionally, Retributive Justice is defined as a theory of justice that views punishment as the best or morally acceptable response to crime. However, the emphasis of the theory lies in imposing a punishment that is both reasonable and proportionate to the crime and its severity. Retributive Justice has a more moral characteristic, seeking to provide mental and/or psychological satisfaction and benefits to the victim and the community. Furthermore, the Retributive Justice theory ensures that such punishment is applied equally to everyone depending on the gravity and nature of the crime. In Retributive Justice, unlike Restorative Justice, there is no forum, discussion, or involvement of the victim and community. Retributive Justice connotes that the offender committed a crime against the state, thereby violating the law and the state’s moral code. The ultimate goal of the theory of Retributive Justice is not rehabilitation, reparation, restoration, or prevention of future offenses, but punishment, returning to the offender a proportionate and suitable punishment in line with the crime and its gravity.

What is the difference between Restorative Justice and Retributive Justice?

The main differences between Restorative Justice and Retributive Justice can be summarized as follows:

  • Restorative Justice views a crime as an act against an individual and the community, while Retributive Justice considers crime an act against the state and a violation of the state’s law and moral code.
  • Restorative Justice focuses on rehabilitation of the offender, victim healing, and reparation of the harm caused, whereas Retributive Justice focuses on punishment suitable and proportionate to the crime committed.
  • Victims and the community are central to the process of Restorative Justice, while their role is limited or virtually non-existent in the process of Retributive Justice.
  • Restorative Justice is carried out through negotiation or mediation involving the victim, offender, and the community, whereas Retributive Justice focuses on punishing the offender for the crime, without a negotiation or mediation process.
  • Restorative Justice focuses on achieving justice through the involvement of all parties, while Retributive Justice maintains that justice is served when the offender has been punished appropriately.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


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