Restorative Justice: Carmela Dela Rosa’s Case
When it comes to crime, victims as well as many other people who might be involved are eager to seek justice that is often achieved through punishment. The present judicial system tends to use three major paradigms: retributive, restorative, and parallel justice. It is noteworthy that retributive justice is the oldest type as people have applied it since ancient times and the principle “eye for an eye” is central to this form of justice. Nonetheless, the two other forms sprang in the twentieth century and now there are many advocates of these paradigms. Clearly, there are cases when some forms of justice are more effective. It is possible to trace the difference between the three types of justice considering a particular case.
The case in question is the case of Carmela Dela Rosa, a woman aged 51 who killed her granddaughter aged two (Jouvenal, 2012). The woman went to a mall with her daughter and granddaughter. Allegedly, the defendant had been living through a certain period of depression and there could be some mental issues. The woman was angry with her daughter and when her daughter moved forward, she threw the little girl down a high walkway in the mall. The girl died that day in a hospital. The woman was sentenced to 35 years in jail.
It is possible to note that the case in question should be solved in terms of restorative justice, which is victim-oriented and seeks reconciliation between the victim and the offender. Since the case involves close relatives, restorative justice is the most suitable option as the family can discuss the situation they are in and come up with the most appropriate solution. Admittedly, the feelings of the daughter who has lost her child and is about to lose her mother have to be taken into account. The offender’s psychological state, her love, and her remorse should also play a role in finding the best solution to this case.
In the first place, it is necessary to consider the major peculiarities of the three paradigms. Thus, restorative justice is a soft-core model that is aimed to “produce some form of mutually satisfactory resolution or healing to a harm or conflict” (Dzur, 2003, p. 279). The forms of restorative justice are voluntary and dialogue-oriented, and they often take the form of conferences, victim-offender reconciliation programs, and so on. It is regarded as especially effective in cases when close relatives are involved (Wenzel, Okimoto, Feather & Platow, 2008).
However, it is also necessary to note that this form of justice is rather new as it appeared in the 1970s (Pemberton, Winkel & Groenhuijsen, 2008). More so, Pemberton et al. (2008) state that restorative justice has been insufficiently researched and it is essential to examine numerous issues. Gromet and Darley (2009) also note that people’s attitude towards punishment is manifold and it is essential to understand what people seek in punitive measures to evaluate the effectiveness of restorative justice.
Unlike restorative justice, retributive justice represents a hard-core model and is aimed at providing a proportionate punishment for a crime. Society expects that the offender “deserves to be punished… for justice to be reestablished” (Wenzel et al., 2008, p. 375). In this case, the punitive measures have a compulsory form and justice is usually achieved through spending certain time in jail, paying fines, and completing certain works. This form of justice is often seen as effective as the offender is often unable to commit another crime (due to his/her detention).
At the same time, it is still unclear whether this brings satisfaction to victims as well as the community. Advocates of restorative justice claim that the offender should contribute to the development of the community as his/her detention simply leads to extra expenditure of tax money and high risks of recidivism (Wenzel et al., 2008). Clearly, with some types of crime, such a hard-core model can be ineffective. This is especially meaningful in terms of the financial constraints of states as money allocated to fund prisons could be used more appropriately.
Parallel justice can be regarded as a soft-core model that embodies elements of the two forms mentioned above. Herman (2004) notes that this form of justice can respond to the needs of both the victim and the offender. The parallel justice implies that the offender is punished proportionately but after the punishment, he/she is assisted to reenter society. Therefore, recidivism is diminished and the person can start a new life and become an active member of society.
This can be an effective system, but it is still unclear whether it contributes to the development of the community, satisfies the needs of the victim, and is beneficial for the offender. Clearly, this form of justice is rather inapplicable in the case of serious crimes. It is possible to note that the three forms of justice require additional research and it is necessary to develop an appropriate framework for different types of crimes.
Dzur, A.W. (2003). Civic implications of restorative justice theory: Citizen participation and criminal justice policy. Policy Sciences, 36(3), 279-306.
Gromet, D.M., & Darley, J.M. (2009). Punishment and beyond: Achieving justice through the satisfaction of multiple goals. Law & Society Review, 43(1), 1-37.
Herman, S. (2004). Is restorative justice possible without a parallel without a parallel system for victims? In H. Zehr & B. Toews (Eds.), Critical issues in restorative justice (pp. 75-84). Monsey, NY: Criminal Justice Press.
Jouvenal, J. (2012). VA. Woman gets 35 years for fatally tossing granddaughter off mall walkway. The Washington Post. Web.
Pemberton, A., Winkel, F., & Groenhuijsen, M.S. (2008). Evaluating victims’ experiences in restorative justice. British Journal of Community Justice, 6(2), 99-119.
Wenzel, M., Okimoto, T.G., Feather, N.T., & Platow, M.J. (2008). Retributive and restorative justice. Law and Human Behavior, 32(5), 375-89.