Today the British Prime Minister was quizzed on his responses to the August Riots. While it is clear that previous convictions or dealings with the police did stop a select few from joining the looting and destruction one fact made me pay attention - an overwhelming majority of those caught by the police had previous convictions or cautions. As several Ministers pointed out, and I agree, these individuals had been alienated from the community they live in and by following the path of retributive justice had been removed (in the case of those who had served time) from society as a whole. As this is the case why is it that the government and the country as a whole believed that retributive justice, fining, imprisonment etc, was the best solution to deal with the post-riot arrests.
Restorative justice is an idea where-by wrong-doers are forced to apologise to the individual or group they wronged and earn their way back into society. It has been implemented in many areas of the world, including post-conflict and post-genocide countries with a large amount of success. Instead of removing a person from society and locking them up with a lot of other bad people, why not make them part of the society they felt alienated from? By giving them community projects and by allowing them to feel accepted by those around them it removes the antipathy which can lead to the forms of mass violence that was seen in the summer riots. If it can reintegrate those who participated in genocide and mass killing I think it is a reasonable conclusion to draw that it can help disaffected petty crooks in the UK.