An Eye for an Eye Will Make the Whole World Blind: How Restorative Justice Will Help the World See Again

Amber Massey

Restorative justice is a theory that emphasizes restoring victims.[i]  Restorative justice is victim-centered and involves those most directly affected by the crime —the victim, the offender, their family members, and members of the community.[ii]  Through the restorative justice process these individuals are directly involved in addressing the harm and coming to a solution.[iii]  Unlike retributive justice that views crimes committed by an offender as a crime against the state,[iv] and asks the questions:  What law was broken, who broke it, and what the punishment should be?[v]  Restorative justice instead focuses on the crime against the victim,[vi] and asks the questions:  Who was harmed, what are the needs and responsibilities of all affected, and how do the parties together repair the harm?[vii]  Restorative justice is relatively new and only emerged in the United States around the 1970s.[viii]  Nationwide there are thirty-five states that have adopted legislation encouraging the use of restorative justice for both children and adults.[ix]  

When a crime is committed often as a society we often believe the punishment must fit the crime.[x]  Within the westernized legal system, having justice done is most often synonymous with administering punishment.[xi]  While the current criminal justice system in the United States has its strengths, there are also weaknesses such as being overworked and overwhelmed with the number of cases.[xii]  As a result of being overwhelmed, the offender and victim might not get the attention needed due to lack of time.[xiii]  The restorative justice model is better suited to meet a individuals needs because there is a personalized sense to it, from the face to face direct communication to working together to reach a solution.[xiv]  

The restorative justice model started out in the 1890’s based on the tradition of oral justice of the New Zealand Maori and the native people of North America.[xv]  However, the movement did not begin to gain momentum until the 1970’s when a variety of approaches to restorative justice started to emerge in many countries throughout the world.[xvi]

Canada is considered to be the pioneer behind the restorative justice movement, when they began using victim offender mediation (“VOM”) in 1974 as a result of  an incident in Elmira, Ontario in 1974.[xvii]  A probation officer who wanted to make offenders accountable for their actions, took two men door-to-door to the owners of the properties they vandalized.[xviii]  This action had such positive reactions from all parties involved that it served as a springboard for victim-offender mediation programs.[xix]  Restorative justice can be seen throughout the world in countries such as Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, South Africa, New Zealand and much of Western Europe.[xx]  

        Since then restorative justice programs have begun to pop up throughout the United States starting in the 1970s and 1980s.  A concurring opinion by a Florida Supreme Court judge sums up why restorative justice is so important, in her opinion Judge Pariente states:

. . . .  [A] lengthy prison term would satisfy only the goal of retribution. On the other hand, a balanced and restorative justice approach views crime as "more than a violation of criminal law" but also as a disruption "in a three-dimensional relationship of victim, community, and offender." It  further recognizes that because crime “harms the victim and the community, the primary goals should be to repair the harm and heal the victim and the community. The goal of any case disposition should be to promote public safety, competency development, and accountability. Further, sentencing that has been based on restorative justice principles has shown higher rates of compliance with payment of restitution amounts and in completion of community service. (citations omitted)[xxi]

A number of states are currently implementing restorative justice principles to their juvenile justice system such as:  Arizona, Colorado, California, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin.[xxii]  While restorative justice originally began as a way to deal with property crimes such as burglary, today restorative justice is being used for even the most severe forms of crimes, including murder.[xxiii]  Restorative justice is not only used in throughout the criminal justice system but is also used in schools, communities, businesses, and foster care and group homes.[xxiv]  It is clear that restorative justice is gaining momentum throughout the United States and is on its way to repairing the harm afflicted against victims by offenders, and bringing people together in the process.[xxv]

[i].        Steve Mulligan, From Retribution to Repair: Juvenile Justice and the History of Restorative Justice, 31 U. La Verne L. Rev. 139, 140 (2009).
[ii].        Mary Ellen Reimund, The Law and Restorative Justice: Friend of Foe - A Systematic Look at the Legal Issues in Restorative Justice, 53 Drake L. Rev. 667, 668 (2005).
[iii].      Nuri Nusrat, What is–and is Not–Restorative Justice?, Nat’l Council on Crime & Delinq.: NCCD Blog (Aug. 20, 2013),
[iv].      Mulligan, supra note 1, at 140.
[v].       Nusrat, supra note 3. 
[vi].      Mulligan, supra note 1, at 141.
[vii].     About RJ, Fla. Restorative Just. Ass’n, (last visited Jul. 22, 2018).
[viii].    Marilyn Armour, Restorative Justice: Some Facts and History, Charter for Compassion (Jan. 1, 2012),
[ix].      Rebecca Beitsch, States Consider Restorative Justice as Alternatives to Mass Incarceration, PBS News (Jul. 20, 2016),
[x].       Mikhail Lyubansky, Our Justice System Requires Us to Punish Wrongdoers. What if There is A Better Way? Psychology Today: Between The Lines (Aug. 18, 2010),
[xi].      Id.
[xii].     Jae Allen, Weaknesses of the Criminal Justice System, Legal Beagle, (last visited Jul. 27, 2018).
[xiii].    Id.
[xiv].    Nusrat, supra note 3.
[xv].     Jasmine Duel et. al., Restorative Justice: Restoring California’s Juvenile Justice System and Abolishing Juvenile Life Without Parole, 3 L.A. Pub. Int. L. J. 68, 78-9 (2010-2012). “Navajo of North America explain that their version of restorative justice was not designed to punish individuals, rather to "teach them how to live a better life ... It is a healing process that either restores good relationships among people or, if they do not have good relations to begin with, fosters and nourishes a healthy environment.”  Id.
[xvi].    Id.
[xvii].   Duel et. al., supra note 30, at 77; Hon. T. Bennett Burkemper Jr. et. al., Restorative Justice in Missouri’s Juvenile Justice System, 63 J. Mo. B. 128, 130 (2007).
[xviii].  Bhavya Mahajan, Victim-Offender Mediation: A Case Study and Argument for Expansion to Crimes of Violence, 10 Am. J. Mediation 125, 127 (2017); see Duel et. al., supra note 30, at 77.
[xix].    Duel et. al., supra note 30, at 77.
[xx].     Burkemper Jr. et. al., supra note 30, at 130.
[xxi].     State v. VanBebber, 848 So. 2d 1046, 1054 n.9. (Fla. 2003).
[xxii].   Id.
[xxiii].  Mahajan, supra note 32, at 125; see generally Paul Tullis, Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?, N.Y. Times Mag. (Jan. 4, 2013); Duel et. al, supra note 30.
[xxiv].   About RJ, supra note 7.
[xxv].   See Burkemper Jr. et. al., supra note 30, at 130; Duel et. al., supra note 30, at 80.

Supreme Court Makes It Easier for People to Win Big

Alexandra Eichner

Enacted in 1992, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”) barred all but a small handful of states from legalizing sports betting.[1]  Sports betting had come to be so disfavored by so many members of the public and of the federal government, that Congress took matters into their own hands with this federal legislation.[2]  PASPA stood as federal law until May 18, 2018, which is when the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in its entirety due to the commandeering effect it had on the states.[3]  The Supreme Court said that PASPA unconstitutionally directed state legislatures by telling them that they were not allowed to repeal their own state laws that banned sports betting.[4]  With this ruling, the Supreme Court further cemented this anti-commandeering doctrine into law.[5]  The reasoning behind this Supreme Court opinion stands to not only effect legalized sports betting, but also subjects not related to gambling at all.[6]  Debates on sanctuary cities, gun control, and marijuana possession will likely feel repercussions of this Supreme Court decision.[7]  

While many people and organizations are in opposition to legalized sports betting—including a number of critical athletes, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”), and other sports leagues—many benefits are likely to follow sports gambling legalization efforts of the states.[8]  Sports gambling is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States today, and the recent Supreme Court decision to allow states to decide for themselves if they will allow sports betting will benefit both state and national economies by greatly increasing tax revenues.[9]  And that is not the only benefit.[10]  A safer market will be created for sports bettors, jobs will be created, a bigger economic impact will be felt, the integrity of sporting events will be better protected, people with a gambling addiction may help receive treatment faster, and the games will be more exciting for the leagues and viewers.[11]  

Many state legislatures are quickly reacting to this decision and are beginning to discuss possible legalization in their own states.[12]  A small handful have already enacted full scale sports gambling, while another handful have recently passed bills.[13]  Twelve others have introduced sports gambling bills that are awaiting passage.[14]  Almost half of the states have reacted to this news in some way and are engaged in efforts to move their state towards legalized sports gambling.[15]  

The State of Florida specifically has laws that prohibit sports gambling.[16]  These laws would need to be repealed or amended before sports betting would be legal in the state.[17]  These actions have not been taken by the Florida legislature yet.[18]  But that is not to say that Florida will not legalize sports gambling in the future.[19]  However, if Florida does, those legalization efforts may prove to be more challenging in that state than in some of the other states.[20]  For one, there are eight Indian owned and operated casinos in Florida.[21]  This throws a third party—one not too keen on adding sports gambling to the casinos—into the mix of negotiators for legalization.[22]  Second, a ballot initiative stands as an obstacle.[23]  Florida has an amendment on the ballot in November that, if passed, would require voter approval to expand gambling.[24]  It would no longer be left to the legislature.[25]  So the future of legal sports gambling in Florida is still an open question, and in the hands of future voters in November 2018.[26]  

[1].          Amy Howe, The 10th Amendment, Anti-Commandeering and Sports Betting:  In Plain English,
SCOTUS Blog (Aug. 14, 2017, 12:19 PM), 
[2].          See S. Rep. No. 102–248, at 5 (1992).
[3].          Murphy v. Nat’l Collegiate Athletic Ass’n, No. 16–476, slip op. at 31 (U.S. 2018).
[4].          Id.  
[5].          Mike Maharrey, Supreme Court’s Sports Gambling Opinion is a Rare and Major Win
for the Tenth Amendment, Tenth Amendment Center (May 14, 2018),
[6].          Ilya Somin, Sports Gambling Decision is a Major Victory for Federalism, Reason (May 14,
[7].          Id.
[8].          Adam Edelman, College Sports Warn Against Moves to Legalize Betting, NBC (Feb. 19, 2018),; Brett Smiley, 7 of the Biggest Potential Benefits of Legal, Regulated Sports Betting, Sports Handle (Aug. 23, 2017, 11:50 AM),  
[9].          Smiley, supra note 6.
[10].         Id.
[11].         Id.
[12].         See Ryan Rodenberg, State-by-State Sports Betting Bill Tracker, ESPN (June 29, 2018),
[13].         Id.
[14].         Id.
[15].         See id.
[16].         Id.
[17].         Rodenberg, supra note 10.
[18].         Id.
[19].         Id.
[20].         See Craig Davis & Gray Rohrer, Supreme Court Ruling Doesn’t Mean Sports Betting Will Come
to Florida Quickly — or at all, Sun Sentinel (May 14, 2018, 7:40 PM),; News Serv. of Fla., Florida, Seminoles Extend Gambling Deal, Sun Sentinel (Apr. 19, 2018,10:10 AM),
[21].         Florida Casinos, 500 Nations, (last visited July 28, 2018).
[22].         Shannon Green, Sports Betting Ruling:  The Good, Bad, and the Ugly for Florida, Orlando
Sentinel (May 15, 2018, 2:35 PM),
[23].         See Davis & Rohrer, supra note 18.
[24].         Id.
[25].         See id.
[26].         Id.