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Background

The foundations of a Catholic understanding of criminal and restorative justice include:

  1. “Protecting society from those who threaten life, inflict harm, take property, and destroy the bonds of community.”

  2. “Rejecting simplistic solutions such as ‘three strikes and you’re out’ and rigid mandatory sentencing.”

  3. “Promoting serious efforts toward crime prevention and poverty reduction.”

  4. “Challenging the culture of violence and encouraging a culture of life.”

  5. “Offering victims the opportunity to participate more fully in the criminal justice process.”

  6. “Encouraging innovative programs of restorative justice that provide the opportunity for mediation between victims and offenders and offer restitution for crimes committed.”

  7. “Insisting that punishment has a constructive and rehabilitative purpose.”

  8. “Encouraging Spiritual Healing and Renewal for those who commit crime.”

  9. “Making a serious commitment to confront the pervasive role of addiction and mental illness in crime.”

  10. “Treating immigrants justly.”

  11. “Placing crime in a community context and building on promising alternatives that empower neighborhoods and towns to restore a sense of security.”(1)

 

In short, while simple criminal justice observes that a crime has been committed and seeks to dole out punishments equal to the law broken, restorative justice takes into account persons and relationships; Catholic social teaching; and the possibility of reconciliation and redemption. It gives power to victims to help determine the path forward in carrying out justice, and power to perpetrators to make amends, as much as is possible.

1https://www.usccb.org/resources/responsibility-rehabilitation-and-restoration-catholic-perspective-crime-and-criminal#:~:text=Our%20faith%20calls%20us%20to,approach%20is%20victim%2Doffender%20mediation.

Church Documents

Catechism of the Catholic Church

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