25 August 2012

Norway: Restorative Justice

 Norway recently sentenced Anders Behring Breivik to only 21 years in prison. To a North American sense of punitive justice, this can seem like inadequate punishment for the crime, but it is in keeping with the Scandinavian system of restorative justice:
Incarceration, in this thinking, is the treatment for whatever social or psychological disease led them to transgress. The criminals are not primarily wrongdoers to be punished, but broken people to be fixed. 
In Norway, the families of the victims also got a chance to have a direct voice, with court time dedicated to each of the 77 victims — autopsies and how they died, but also biographies of the victims, including unfulfilled ambitions and dreams — in an effort to offer an outlet for the pain and suffering.

While this may subvert the retributive sense of justice that punitive systems promote, restorative justice is the moral high road, and appears to be the natural progression of criminal justice systems.