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PEACE-MAKING CRIMINOLOGY

Less a theoretical perspective and more a philosophy of non-violent conflict resolution, peace-making criminology draws together an eclectic range of approaches to the study of crime and criminal justice. Peace-making as an approach to understanding crime and justice came to the attention of criminology following the publication of a collection of essays edited by Harold Pepinsky and Richard Quinney entitled Criminology as Peacemaking (Pepinsky and Quinney, 1991). In his conclusion to the collected essays, Pepinsky suggested that peace-making drew on three sets of traditions – religious, feminist and critical traditions – although, in fact, its sources are much broader. Among other sources, contributors to the collection drew on anarchism, socialism, Marxism, mutualism and feminism; Buddhism, Quakerism and Gandhi; social psychology, functionalist sociology, post-structuralism, existentialism and psychoanalysis. Whilst the philosophical foundations of the peace-making approach are complex in the extreme, its moral perspectives on crime and criminal justice are not. It challenges the metaphor of ‘war’ in contemporary criminal justice policy – the ‘war on drugs’, or the ‘war on crime’, and so on – arguing that the relegation of criminals to the status of the ‘enemy’ is a form of dehumanisation that both prevents offenders from taking responsibility for the harms they perpetrate and reinforces society’s unequal power relationships. The dominant approach to criminal justice in contemporary society is one of punishment and retribution, but this merely encourages offenders to be more efficient in order to avoid being caught (Fuller, 1998: 88) and does not go to the root of the causes of crime problem – which are to be found in the violent, unequal and exclusive organisation of modern society. Peace-making criminology is strongly linked to the Restorative Justice movement and shares many of the latter’s proposals for dealing with problems of crime and justice. Peace-making criminology begins in a distinction between ‘nega-

tive’ and ‘positive’ peace. Negative peace refers simply to the absence of violence. Positive peace refers to the presence of mutual support, humanism and freedom from oppression; that is, to the presence of those forms of human organisation that reduce motivations for violence. It is towards realising the second sense of ‘peace’ that peacemaking criminology strives. In this regard, it is as much a critique of contemporary society as it is a branch of criminology. According to Barak (2005: 131), ‘for positive peace to exist as a prevailing social reality, the dominant sources of violence – alienation, humiliation,

shame, inequity, poverty, racism, sexism, and so on – would have to be substantially reduced, if not done away with’. Hence, the goal of peace-making is not simply to engage with offenders and make them more peaceful but to instil principles and practices of mindfulness, respect and reconciliation into the operations of all contemporary social institutions – including the institutions of criminal justice. A peaceful, or at least less violent, society cannot be built on the foundations of a violent and exclusive criminal justice policy. A society in which criminal justice is founded on punishment and retribution is one that upholds violence as a means of resolving conflicts. It sends out the signal that the way to deal with harms is to mete out equal or greater harms to their perpetrators. Such an approach turns the goal of reducing violence on its head because, according to Richard Quinney (2000: 27), ‘the means cannot be different from the ends, peace can come only out of peace.’ A violent and exclusive criminal justice system (CJS) offers no means through which offenders, victims and communities can be reconciled, reintegrated and enabled to devise useful and appropriate reactions to the criminal harms committed and suffered. Rather than

escalating the violence in our already violent society by responding to violence and conflict with state violence and conflict in the form of penal sanctions such as death and prison, we need to de-escalate violence by responding to it through forms of conciliation, mediation, and dispute settlement.