ABSTRACT

Restorative justice basically is a bottom-up approach to the settlement of the aftermath of a crime. Its re-emergence is based on deep dissatisfaction with traditional criminal justice, which is reproached for being guided by top-down rules, leading to alienation from real life. Instead, informal deliberation – as a means of repairing harm caused by crime – is advanced as a more effective and appropriate response than formal interventions in law enforcement. Restorative justice has been a succes so far. In two or three decades, it has become all over the world a busy field of experimentation, an important domain of empirical and theoretical research and of socio-ethical reflection, and a crucial theme in the debates on juvenile justice and criminal justice reform. Its success has helped promote restorative justice as the mainstream response to crime, raising high on the agenda the question of how to incorporate it into the principles of a democratic constitutional state. In other words, how to find an appropriate relationship between restorative justice and its support for informal deliberative processes, and the law in a democratic state, with its need for formalization and external control?