The Moral Imagination of Restorative Justice Open Access

Levad, Amy Marie-Aileen (2009)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/q811kk06m?locale=en
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Abstract

The Moral Imagination of Restorative Justice

By Amy Levad

Criminal and juvenile justice systems in the United States have reached a crisis point. Christian social ethicists and theologians have responded to this crisis in part by recommending "restorative justice," a movement that involves a variety of sentencing practices in which victims, offenders, and community members meet to reach an agreement about how to "repair the harm" caused by crime. Advocates in a broader movement for restorative justice trace crises in our criminal and juvenile justice systems to the rehabilitative and retributive ideologies and practices that have dominated these systems. As a work of Christian social ethics, this dissertation explores restorative justice as an alternative to these ideologies and practices in terms of its specific type of "moral imagination" and its capacity to realize "justice as equity."

Drawing on Aristotle, modern virtue ethics, and recent works on moral imagination, the dissertation establishes the premise that the realization of justice as equity requires vivid and expansive moral imagining in our processes of ethical discernment. Furthermore, the quality of our moral imagining depends partially upon the narratives, metaphors, and symbols that compose the types of moral imagination that we use to organize our experiences. Our social, cultural, and institutional locations inform the types of moral imagination that we use, and thus the quality of our moral imagining. The dissertation analyzes the different types of moral
imagination presupposed and supported by models of restorative, rehabilitative, and retributive justice.

Through an ethnographic study of five restorative justice programs in Colorado, the dissertation then argues that as participants in restorative justice practices use and negotiate restorative, retributive, and rehabilitative moral imaginations in their processes of ethical discernment, they engage in activities of vivid and expansive moral imagining that are not supported in more common sentencing practices. Their facility with moral imagining therefore better enables them to realize justice as equity in response to particulars of specific cases of crime. The dissertation concludes that further institutionalization of restorative justice may help answer some aspects of crises in our criminal and juvenile justice systems.

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS


CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
I. The State of Criminal Justice in the United States: Systems in Crisis.....................1
II. Seeking Christian Responses to Criminal Justice Crises......................................7
III. Restorative Justice, Moral Imagination, and Justice as Equity..........................16
IV. Methodology and Outline...........................................................................30

CHAPTER 2: JUSTICE AS EQUITY AND MORAL IMAGINING

I. Introduction.............................................................................................48
II. Justice as Equity......................................................................................52
III. The Faculties Necessary for Equity: Perception, Emotion, and Imagination........64
IV. The Significance and Meaning of Moral Imagination.......................................72
V. Moral Imagination and Justice as Equity.......................................................93
VI. Conclusion...........................................................................................100

CHAPTER 3: RESTORATIVE MORAL IMAGINATION

I. Introduction...........................................................................................104
II. Defining "Restorative Justice"...................................................................106
III. Moral Imagination Among Restorative Justice Advocates..............................116
IV. Evaluation of Restorative Justice: Can It Vivify and Expand Moral Imagining?
Can It Make Us Equitable? ..........................................................................147


CHAPTER 4: MORAL IMAGINING IN RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PRACTICES

I. Tyson's Conference.................................................................................158
II. Ethnographic Study: Finding Moral Imagination in Practice.............................164
III. Analyzing Tyson's Conference: Restorative Moral Imagination in Practice.........174
IV. Expanding Analysis: Restorative Moral Imagination in Five Programs................186
V. Conclusion.............................................................................................215

CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSIONS ON THE MORAL IMAGINATION OF RESTORATIVE JUSTICE

I. A Qualified Hope......................................................................................219
II. Expanding and Vivifying Moral Imagination...................................................224
III. Realizing a Qualified Hope in Restorative Justice...........................................229

Restoration versus Retribution..........................................235
Restoration and Rehabilitation..........................................241
Diversity and Inclusion in the
Community Contexts of Restorative Justice........................247
Dangerous Uses of Restorative Justice..............................253
Summary.....................................................................254
IV. Ongoing Questions.................................................................................255

APPENDIX: INTERVIEW SCHEDULES AND ANALYSIS......................................261

BIBLIOGRAPHY........................................................................................275


ILLUSTRATIONS

Figures

1 Interconnection of Moral Imagination and Activities of Moral Imagining................88
2 Pyramid of Restorative Justice, Rehabilitation, and Incapacitation.....................244


Tables
1 Characteristics of Strict Legal Justice versus Justice as Equity..........................97
2 Being Equitable in Comparison with Activities of Moral Imagining.........................99
3 Features of Restorative, Retributive, and Rehabilitative Moral Imaginations.........120

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