According to Braithwaite (1999), restorative justice is a concept that has been used over the years to create a change in mentality of how people deal with punishments given to wrong doers. He further argues that when an individual commits a crime, it is not only the offender who gets affected but other close related parties also get involved. For instance, such acts affect the victim to whom such a crime has been perpetuated upon, the family members of both the victim and the offender. In some instances, the entire community gets affected by a single crime. (Zehr, 2002 and Milka, 1998) both argue that once such a crime has taken place in the society, its solution can only be found if all the above mentioned parties participate in the solution finding mission. The same concept should be applied for the case study given where a member of my family got brutally murdered and as a result, the murdered got jailed, and he is currently waiting to be executed.
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Forgiveness can be defined as the act of renouncing to harm the offender but not necessarily renouncing to receive reparation. In essence what that means is that the offender is relieved from getting harmed but not necessarily being released from consequences of his or her actions (Tulli, 2013). For instance, in this case, if the family decides to forgive the offender, then he (the offender) can be excused from being executed but still serve his term in jail. For such a decision to be reached there will be a need for every member of the family to involved in the decision making process since the death of the family member affected the entire family. In as much as everyone is going through the pain and agony of losing a loved one, it may as well be of importance to come face to face with the offender for healing purposes (Heather, 2004). At times, it is through such interactions that the family members may get to clearly understand what motivated the victim to carry out such a heinous act. Additionally, such an interaction may in one or another relieve the affected family members from the pain they are going through.
One thing that both the family and the victim must understand is that the decision to take part in a restorative meeting must always be purely voluntary. The member of the victim’s rights group who acts on behalf of the victim should also be made aware that they are supposed to let their clients make their independent decisions (Waller, 1989). The victims’ rights group should not make any attempt to persuade or convince the murdered to have such a meeting with the family. Once there is no voluntary and independent decisions made in the process for seeking restoration and justice then such a meeting fails to meet its primary objectives.
Read also Concept and Purpose of Restorative Justice and Restitution
Additionally, the victim’s right group should not play any role in coaching or directing the victim on how to respond to any of the questions that will be raised by any of the family members. On the part of the family, they will also be required that they show respect and dignity to the murderer. In as much as the person may have been convicted of murder by the court, that does not make him a lesser human being. He still enjoys his rights as a human being and therefore will expect to be treated with utmost respect and in a dignified manner. Acts such as hurling of abuses to the victim should not occur at all during that meeting.
Theories of value dictate that we either make the correct or wrong decisions based on the societal emotional investments. Whatever is considered right or wrong in a given community depends on the morals that the society believe in. The society would therefore be more judgmental on an individual’s behavior based on their morality. The same way ethics is explicitly codified into a system of rules that are adopted by a given group of people. Within the above context, the family members are expected to give their judgment on the murderer based on the values of the family. Additionally, the decision will also be determined by how the perpetrator explains his ideologies and upholds to withstand by the values that he will swear to live by. If the family rules that the action carried out by the murder were immoral and thereby cannot be granted forgiveness then that will be the case. On the flipside, the murderer can convince the family that he truly deserves to be forgiven, then he will have to prove that beyond reasonable doubt. The families will however, issue the decision based on the morality of the society where the family comes from. Moreover, the decision will also be based on what the family deems to be ethically acceptable.
The decision making process will involve a number of steps that will be carried out in the presence of all members. First of all, the family wil clearly have to understand the problem or the issues at hand. Secondly, the problem will have to be analysed with the inclusive participation of all members. The opinion of every member must be considered. Alternative solutions will then be given, and out of the several alternatives, the best alternative will be picked. The best alternative should that which is supported by a majority of the family members. The best alternative decision that will be picked during that meeting will then be implemented.
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