Focus on Judicial Justice System, Restorative Justice, or Criminal Rights
�Competing perspectives� in the criminal justice system are discussed, including certain �Biblical
Perspectives,� one of which is restorative justice. Restorative justice focuses on restoring the victim by
making the offender compensate the victim for the wrong and adding some punishment. Numbers 5:6�7
highlights this principle very well. “Say to the Israelites: �When a man or woman wrongs another in any
way[a]and so is unfaithful to the Lord, that person is guilty and must confess the sin he has committed.
He must make full restitution for his wrong, add one fifth to it and give it all to the person he has wronged”
(NIV1984). There is also a secondary emphasis of reintegrating offenders back into society.
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There are varied competing perspectives in criminal justice system aimed at crime
deterrence (Zehr, 2014). For instance, there three main approaches that can be adopted in a
criminal procedure such as criminal justice system, restorative justice, or criminal rights (Van
Ness, 2013). In the criminal justice system process the crime committed by the offender is
deemed to be an act against the State, which is, violating a law or an abstract idea (Zehr, 2014).
As a result, through this retributive criminal justice system perspective the crime is controlled by
the criminal justice system whereby the accountability of offenders is defined through the
punishment they take. According to Zehr (2014) in this approach there is no reconciliation
between the offender and victim because the punishment is believed to be effective in deterring
crimes through behavioral change. A good example is conviction of an individual on public
funds embezzlement or corruption, which through this approach the offender is only jailed or
fined while the victim or community do no recover the embezzled funds.
Alternatively, restorative justice focuses on the needs of the victims or involved
community and the offenders rather than punishing of the offender or satisfying abstract legal
principles (Vanfraechem, 2012; Woolpert, 2015). As a result, restorative justice offers an
alternative to criminal trial to ensure that all parties to the crime are central to solving the issue.
The principle of restorative justice is highlighted in (1 Cor. 5:1-8 and Matt. 18: 15-18) where the
punishment of offenders in a church is accomplished through hi/her excommunication, whereby
the offender is expelled by the church from its fellowship whom may eventually repent and be
united to the church. For example, a church member who steals is excommunicated but upon
returning the stolen money/property and repenting is accepted back to church.
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Furthermore, criminal rights must also considered in a criminal procedure based on the
bill of rights since most laws are entrenched in the Constitution which enumerates the powers of
governments while also specifying the limits of those powers and government behavior. As a
result, criminal procedure focuses on government behavior and offender’s rights. A specific
example is that, an offender cannot continue to be held in cells for a billable crime and also every
offender has the right to be represented by a lawyer (Zehr, 2014). These competing perspectives
can be harmonized and are important in crime prevention/deterrence, intervention as well as
breaking the cycle of crime through appropriate considerations of the State laws, punishment,
and individual and social dimensions responsibility of crime in disrupting good relationships as
well as community harmony.
JUDICIAL JUSTICE SYSTEM 4
Vanfraechem, I. et al. (Ed.) (2012). Restorative Justice Realities. Empirical Research in a
European context. Leuven, Belgium: eleven international publishing.
Van Ness, D.W. (2013). Restorative justice. In B. Galaway, & J. Hudson (Eds.), Criminal
justice, restitution, and reconciliation. New York: Willow Tree Press, Inc.
Woolpert, S. (2015). Victim-offender reconciliation programs. In K.G. Duffy, et al. (Eds.),
Community mediation: A handbook for practitioners and researchers. New York: The
Zehr, H. (2014). Changing lenses: A new focus for crime and justice. Waterloo, Ontario: Herald