This article accounts for a prison policy initiated in Belgium in 1998 that aimed at re-shaping the culture of detention towards a culture of "restorative justice". This analysis first illuminates the relationship between knowledge and policy in the policymaking process, but also in the top-down implementation process. The article then assesses the embeddedness of restorative justice ideas and practices in Flemish and French-speaking prison policies. The discussion finally points out some critical questions raised by the concept of restorative justice, its political and legal inscriptions (Freeman & Sturdy, 2015), and some of the paradoxes it entails in terms of "institutionalised alternative" (Bastard & Cardia-Vonèche, 2000) and "retribution and/or restoration" (Albrecht, 2011; Pavlich, 2013).
Keywords: Restorative justice; policymaking; policy implementation; policy embeddedness; controversies.