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This short essay replies to Erik Luna's endorsement of restorative justice. He is right that the goal of healing victims, defendants, and their families is important but all too often neglected by substantive criminal law and procedure, which is far too state-centered and impersonal. The problem with restorative justice is that too often it seeks to sweep away punishment as barbaric and downplays the need for deterrence and incapacitation as well. In short, restorative justice deserves more of a role in American criminal justice. Shorn of its political baggage and reflexive hostility to punishment, restorative justice has much to teach us. But to restore victims and criminals who commit serious crimes, the state must first punish before it and we can forgive. Cheap grace and promiscuous forgiveness demean the crime and the victim.


Criminal sentences, restorative justice, punishment, deterrence, incapacitation, crime victims

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Criminal Law Conversations

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In Paul H. Robinson et al. (eds.), Criminal Law Conversations 595-597 (2009)