Is Restorative Justice Compatible with Sentencing Uniformity?

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Publication Information

Michael M. O'Hear, Is Restorative Justice Compatible with Sentencing Uniformity?, 89 Marq. L. Rev. 305 (2005)

Source Publication

89 Marquette Law Review 305 (2005)


Restorative justice (RJ) procedures offer an alternative to conventional criminal justice procedures. RJ emphasizes dialogue between criminal offenders and their victims, consensual conflict resolution, and the repairing of harm. RJ skeptics, however, frequently argue that RJ procedures undermine uniformity in sentencing. This Article considers the merits of these claims, concluding that RJ is compatible with some versions of uniformity, but not with others. While uniformity, as a sentencing ideal, has many supporters, uniformity means quite different things to different people. In particular, the Article contrasts "static" and "dynamic" "versions of uniformity. The static approaches rely on sentencing factors that are external and antecedent to the processes of the criminal justice system. The dynamic approaches, by contrast, permit consideration of the interactions between offenders, victims, and criminal justice professionals within the system. The Article demonstrates that the dynamic paradigms are more compatible with RJ than the static. The Article also suggests some reasons to view the static paradigms (which pose relatively greater difficulties for RJ) with skepticism.