Human Relations Ethical Dilemma
You are the director of a restorative justice program in your community. It is set up for juvenile offenders and involves circle sentencing, in which the offender meets with family members, school officials, and the victim and the victim’s relatives and friends. The circle comes up with what should be done, and often there is no punishment per se. Rather, the juvenile is connected with programs that can help him or her get back to school, get a job, or receive vocational training. In the case you are reviewing, you suspect that there are real questions as to whether the juvenile actually committed the burglary he is accused of. There is no evidence to link the juvenile with the crime, and he and his court-appointed attorney have claimed innocence. They then changed their plea and agreed to the restorative justice program, perhaps because if it is completed successfully, the juvenile will have no criminal record. Should you care whether the juvenile is innocent or not, given that the program is restorative, not punitive?