On April 15, 2013, I was sitting at mile ten of the Boston Marathon in Natick, watching the runners go by admiring their strength and endurance just as I have done every year. When the runners started to decrease, so did the crowd, and most of my friends went our separate ways home and watched as the cleanup team started clearing the roads of its empty water cups and orange peels. When I walked into my house around 3:00 p.m I entered an environment of fear, my mom, dad, and sister were all swarming the TV. The channel was set on the news and all that was pictured was huge clouds of smoke and terror, I shrieked, “what is going on?”
We live in a world that screams “justice” every time a crime occurs, but what really is justice? Justice is viewed differently to every person involved in the situation at hand, whether they be the perpetrator, the victim, the surrounding community or the person watching the issue on his/her TV screen. In the book Repair, Spelman compares and contrasts the differences between two types of Justice, restorative, and retributive. Nowadays, the justice system focuses on retributive justice and doesn’t take into account the aftermath of the situation, even after “justice is served”, and Spelman makes that very clear in her work.
So, then, the restorative justice movement sees itself as responding to the brute fact that the criminal justice system and the “trail ‘em, nail ‘em, and jail ‘em” process by which it identifies crimes and brings perpetrators to ‘justice’ in a state of shambles. This is not a judgment with which restorative justice enthusiasts will find much disagreement…(Spelman 58).
Here Spelman puts the word justice in quotes, which insists that she is using the term very lightly. It follows the overall theme of the chapter which is restorative justice vs. retributive justice. I believe that criminal systems need to take a more careful consideration of using the restorative justice system because it focuses more on who was harmed, how they have been harmed and how the victim, community, and perpetrator can be fixed. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing that occurred in 2013, I believe more should have been done in mending the hearts of the victim’s friends and families and the community that surrounded Boston. Yes, they did catch the perpetrator of the terrorist attack, but does that really mean that the victims felt better? The people of Boston spent many weeks after that marathon grieving the loss of community members and questioning why this happened. Some people attended memorials, grieving ceremonies or even drowned themselves in work in order to try to forget about what had just happened. But the was topic inevitable, it had stained the past and present marathon runners, the families of victims, the people of Boston and the country. Living 20 minutes outside of Boston myself, I was left with these questions as well and I think something productive could have been done about the confusion that was left on hearts of the surrounding communities.
Nearly two years later the perpetrator mutters his apology, “I am sorry for the lives that I’ve taken, for the suffering that I’ve caused you, and the damage that I’ve done”, I know when I heard these words I felt no remorse. Therefore, some people might say the only way the perpetrator would get what he deserved was through the death penalty, but how would this help repair the community? It would elevate any worries of him enacting any terrorist attack again but it wouldn’t heal the wounds of the Boston people. In may of 2015, Tsarnaev was sentenced to death and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh expressed his condolences by saying, “hope [that] this verdict provides a small amount of closure to everyone affected by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing”, and that’s exactly what it did, bring a small amount of closure. Justice was served, but restorative justice was not. Spelman also brings up the death penalty in a form of restorative justice.
…in a recent study carried out by lawyers and criminologists from Columbia University, the system of capital punishment in the United States was pronounced “broken”, so reeking of incompetence and unfairness that ‘the time is ripe for fixing the death penalty. Or, if it can’t be fixed, to end it.’ But the concern of restorative justice proponents is not that often associated with the political right- that stricter law enforcement is necessary (Spelman 58).
Society has been so caught up with “political correctness” I believe we have forgotten about the feelings and emotions that can be fixed with restorative justice. I don’t believe retributive justice should be erased altogether, but it can be meshed with restorative to repair all. Boston was in ruins and no apology or retribution could fix this city. On the other hand, maybe this city was scared to be fixed. Superman says, “Repair is hedged round with anxiety that the very process by which something is repaired will destroy.” If Boston repaired itself from the terror attacks, that could release a sense of vulnerability, like once Boston is feeling strong again it will fall victim again. I think as a city, Boston needs to face this sense of vulnerability head on. Repair and destruction are like an infinite circle, you can’t be fixed with without knowing what it feels like to break.
So maybe overall, death penalties in cases like the Boston Bombing are thought to bring justice, but just in a retributive way and completely abandon the repair that emotions of the community and victims really need. I believe that the word justice needs to be redefined in the American society in order to heal all aspects of the humans who have unfortunately been caught up in these terrifying acts.