Punitive response

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A punitive response is an approach to addressing harm, conflict, or abuse through punishment; how the carceral state arbitrarily pursues retribution and punishment instead of true accountability or restorative outcomes for people who have been harmed - Jennifer Loubriel & Rania El Mugammar, adapted by Michelle Xie[1]

Examples of punitive responses

Prisons [2]

If an individual breaks a more serious law, they may be given the punishment of committing their time to an institution which isolated them from loved ones and their community, and limits the daily activities they can participate in. Very little, if anything, is done to prevent future harm or violations.

Fines [3]

If an individual breaks a more minor law, they may be given the punishment of being required to pay a sum of money to compensate for their violation of the law.

School suspension [4]

If a student gets in trouble at school, they may face suspension or expulsion. Rather than working to amend for the harm caused, and/or working with the student to prevent future harm, student's are punished for their behaviour by missing school; reducing their opportunity to engage with peers and stay on top of their classes. 

See our definitions page on transformative justice for an explainer on transformative responses to poor or harmful actions.

If you have any suggested revisions or additional resources to share related to the above content, please email them to kenzie@lehub.ca.

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