Often touted as the humane and politically progressive alternative
to the rigid philosophy of retributive punishment that underpins many
of the world's judicial systems, restorative justice aspires to a
theoretical and practical reconciliation of the values of love and
compassion with justice and accountability. Emotionally seductive, the
rhetoric of restorative justice appeals to a desire for a "right
relation" amongst individuals and communities, and offers us a
vision of justice that allows for the mutual healing of victim and
victimizer, and with it, a sense of communal repair.
In Compulsory Compassion, Annalise Acorn, a one-time
advocate for restorative justice, deconstructs the rhetoric of the
restorative movement. Drawing from diverse legal, literary,
philosophical, and autobiographical sources, she questions the
fundamental assumptions behind that rhetoric: that we can trust
wrongdoers' capacity for meaningful accountability and respectful
community, and that we can, in good conscience, deploy the idea that
healing lies in (re)encounter to seduce victims to participate in
Essential reading for anyone with an interest in restorative
justice, Compulsory Compassion should also be read by scholars
and students of criminal justice and legal theory.
Annalise Acorn is a professor of law at the University of Alberta.
Acknowledgments 1. The Seductive Vision of Restorative Justice: Right-Relation, Reciprocity, Healing, and Repair 2. "Essentially and Only a Matter of Love": Justice and the Teachability of Universal Love 3. Three Precarious Pillars of Restorative Optimism 4. Sentimental Justice: The Unearned Emotions of Restorative Catharsis 5. "Lovemaking Is Justice-Making": The Idealization of Eros and the Eroticization of Justice 6. Compulsory Compassion: Justice, Fellow-Feeling and the Restorative Encounter 7. Epilogue. Restorative Utopias: "The Fire with Which We Must Play"? Notes References Index