Restorative justice for juvenile offenders

Harold Dean Trulear

August 13, 2012

I am encouraged by the court's decision, personally. I think there is something inherently cruel about removing a judge's sentencing discretion, except perhaps to prevent punitive excesses.

The argument that juvenile offenders are less morally culpable for their actions because they are still in growth stage of moral development is a compelling one, I think, but it falls short of the broader, nobler religious ideal of restorative justice. Restorative justice is something that hinges upon an offended party's willingness to voluntarily surrender just (but destructive) retaliatory claims in order to take up the hard, cross-bearing work of seeking healing where the flesh cries out for blood. Whether with juveniles or adults, the restorative paradigm challenges us to substitute the "misery loves company" model with the "an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind" model. That's a painful, unnatural thing to do. But Christians have a unique motivation for this kind of sacrificial obedience: the cross of Christ.

Add your comment to join the discussion!