n Acta Juridica - Is punishment the appropriate response to gross human rights violations? Is a non-punitive justice system feasible? : Part III - retribution and restoration in critical perspective




Let me start by telling a personal story. It is the story of how, more than three decades ago, I was converted to the idea and principles of restorative justice. Thirty-five years ago, in the heated struggle to get Canada to abolish capital punishment, I decided to test the popular and widely-held, though unproven, belief that the death penalty is a unique deterrent. To do so, I conducted a study of the quantitative and qualitative regional variations in criminal homicide rates across Canada. The results showed that the faith placed in the deterrent effect of the death penalty lacked any scientific or empirical support. One of the lessons the study taught me is that homicide research can, in many ways, be very enlightening for the discipline of criminology, much more so than other offences against the person or against property. So when shortly afterwards I was visiting the Ivory Coast as a guest professor at the University of Abidjan, I decided to do a study of African homicide to gain a better understanding of the impact culture has on the rates, the nature and the types of criminal homicide.


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