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Cover The Oxford Textbook on Criminology

30. Alternatives to punishment  

This chapter evaluates the alternative means of responding to offenders and their crimes which have emerged in criminal justice and have been gaining wider recognition. Those who favour innovations of this kind tend to reject conventional assumptions and approaches, proposing new principles for the operation of the justice system. The chapter considers two distinct but similar challenges to conventional models of justice which have developed from this viewpoint: restorative justice and diversion. Restorative justice is based on the presumption that dealing with crime is a process rather than a single act or decision, that it involves collaboration between those with a stake in the offence, and that it emphasises healing as well as ‘putting things right’. Diversionary interventions, which can include community service, restitution, and education, as well as elements of restorative practice, provide an opportunity for the offender to avoid criminal charges or formal judicial processes, albeit sometimes by meeting certain conditional requirements.