We are probably all familiar with the phrase, “thinking outside the box.” As the phrase suggests, to solve a problem we must get outside the box, our frame of thought, and its inherent assumptions and rules in order to analyse and solve problems within the box. It’s not as easy as it sounds, since what is reality for us is that which is within the box. Thinking outside of what is considered normal and acceptable is often considered fantasy or unrealistic. Dr. Elizabeth M. (Liz) Elliot (2011) has noted that in our searching for an alternative paradigm regarding justice, we must get out of the box of retributive thinking. She writes, “Because we are inclined to consider punishment within a paradigm that is punishment based, reconsidering the notion of punishment itself seems ludicrous. Abandoning punishment in this context amounts to doing nothing in response to wrongdoing” (p. 27). This implicit deeply rooted logic in the mind of individuals and society is at the heart of the persistence of retributive justice practices. A paradigm shift is necessary; only by getting outside the box of mythical habitual, logic, will we be able to see that not punishing is not equal to doing nothing (Elliot 2011, p.27). She notes further that adherence to the belief that punishment is necessary for justice to be done is the biggest challenge in making a change in thinking from retributive justice to restorative justice (p.297).
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