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criminal law, restorative justice, social capital, regulation, community, democracy


Globalization and the new information economy are putting great stress on western high-wage economies of which Canada is an exemplar. As individuals and together as a society, Canadians are being forced to become more flexible and strategic in adjusting to changing employment opportunities and economic challenges. Meanwhile, governments have shifted from being purveyors of welfare to being supervisors of both markets and decentralized/ privatized public services. Key roles for the government in this new political environment are the sponsorship of mechanisms for autonomous, individual human capital investment as well as for community responses to these emerging economic and social challenges. This new supervisory state governs by various forms of regulation which are often developed through participatory processes. From legislative rulemaking to community consultation, governance can take the form of a broad and multi-faceted deliberative democracy. Responsive regulation is even having an impact on criminal justice, often thought to be one of the most inflexible arenas of state activity, primarily, though not exclusively, through what is called "restorative justice." True restorative justice in response to crime has characteristics of deliberative democracy that have the potential to make a modest, if not significant, contribution to human capital development and community capacity building. The story of these hopeful developments is the subject of this article but, just as the devil is often said to be in the details, close analysis of detail can be the source of things divine in the best of all possible worlds. The reader is, therefore, forewarned that there follows a highly condensed discussion of the relations among models of criminal justice, regulatory theory, deliberative democracy and human/social capital investment. But the ultimate message is simple: we have the social, economic, political, and indeed legal means to liberate people's creative and productive capacities in multiple ways and in curious places; hence, the reference in the title to the traditional black spiritual "Let My People Go."