By Ruiqi Wei
Restorative justice still remains a myth to me.
Even though I have attended so many sessions on restorative justice, and as I could say all the personal experiences that were shared through the vivid narratives regarding restorative justice are just as impressive as usual, I still cannot devote myself to the idea of restorative justice.
The concept of restorative Justice from my point of view sometimes can be hypocritical on some occasions, and cannot be seen as a healing experience that can truly benefit the victims. Restorative justice as I think is merely atrocity that is imposed on victims once again after the harm is done in the name of love and so-called justice.
In short, restorative justice is the greatest generosity for the perpetrators and meanest atrocity for the victims on some occasions, such as homicides.
The goal of restorative justice is said to be for both the victims and the perpetrators who have harmed to share their experience of what truly happened, to discuss who was harmed by the crime and in what aspects the harm is done, and to create a consensus for what the offenders can do to compensate for the harm that has been done. This may include financial compensation from the offenders to the victims or verbal compensations in the form of apologies. And other actions sometimes are also done to compensate those harmed and to prevent the offender from causing future harm.
But what disturbs me the most in the notion of restorative justice is that, the dead do not speak for themselves. When a murder happens, how do the perpetrators compensate the victims who are deprived of their lives as the result of the harms?
In the name of so-called justice, if the rights to a complete personality of the perpetrator can be restored through mediations or other means, how do people restore the lives for those victims who are harmed to an extent that they are deprived their lives?
Some broken relationships between victims and perpetrators can never be restored in a just way, I think. And even attempt to restore is seen as unfair to the victims.
Growing up as a Chinese atheist, I believe in the hardcore truth of “You get what you give.” Thus it can be said that I think those who kill deserve to be killed. Pure and simple. It is not only for the sake of deterrence of the death penalty that can prevent to some extent the murders from happening, it is also justice for the victims.
I understand that from some other perspectives a death penalty is seen as unacceptable since it is an encroachment on human rights, that being said punishment such as death penalty should in principle be abolished and replaced with a more humane alternative to protect the rights of the perpetrators.
But the rights of those who are killed are already deprived from the moment when they are killed. Someone stands up for rights of the perpetrator, but who to stand up for the rights of victims? Dead do not speak for themselves.
Sorry not Sorry
A visiting scholar called Yingying Zhang was kidnapped and murdered on June 9, 2017. Two years later, it was substantiated that not only was she decapitated, her body was also cut into pieces and disposed in the landfill site.
“On June 24, 2019, the 12-member jury deliberated for less than two hours before returning its verdict. Christensen was found guilty of one count of kidnapping resulting in death and two counts of making false statements to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During sentencing deliberations, the jury could not unanimously agree to sentence Christensen to death. As a result, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on July 18, 2019. ‘
There might be a possibility that one of the 12 judges is an advocate of restorative justice and believe that there is a possibility that restorative justice can transform the murderer Christensen, thus they would not call death penalty the best end. But does Christensen really feel sorry for what he has done? Can restorative really be his remedy? I don’t think so.
“Brendt Christensen didn’t move or show any emotion as the judge read the jury’s verdict — a swift conviction that was widely expected after defense attorneys acknowledged at trial Christensen killed 26-year-old Yingying Zhang in June 2017 and said they would focus all their energy on persuading jurors to spare his life.”