Restorative Justice (RJ)
- is a different way of thinking about crime and our response to crime
- focuses on repairing the harm caused by crime and reducing future harm through crime prevention
- requires offenders to take responsibility for their actions and for the harm they have caused
- seeks redress for victims, recompense by offenders and reintegration of both within the community
- requires a cooperative effort by communities and the government
Howard Zehr’s “grandfather of restorative justice” shares that Restorative justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs and obligations, in order to heal and put things right as possible.
The Little Book of Restorative Justice, 2002, p. 37
Patty La Taille, Peace Alliance Humanizing Justice Systems Lead presents at the National Association for Communities and Restorative Justice Conference on the topic of using therapy dogs as part of the restorative justice process.
Restorative Justice & The Peace Alliance
The Peace Alliance recognizes the exponentially growing movement of Restorative Justice to be one of the key systemic transformations occurring right now in the United States. It is a powerful on-the-ground response to the many issues our country faces pertaining to justice. Currently, we house over 1/3 of the world’s prisoners while we comprise less than 1/5 of the world’s population. The Prison Industrial Complex has vested interests to the tune of billions in profit every year in keeping prisons full. Corporate for-profit prison giants GEO Group and Correctional Corp. of America have led charges on state-run systems and are attempting to corporatize all aspects of criminal justice, including the profiteeering of health care services within the system. Our country has created a school-to-prison pipeline in its zero-tolerance policies and it emprisons one of ten young black males. It is estimated that half of the prison population has mental illness. Needless to say, a movement to respond to these issues and more is at hand. And then some.
The Peace Alliance strives to support the mobilization of this movement, its momentum building, to create advocacy and political will in systemic changemaking, and to provide educational opportunities that leverage an already-strong Peace Alliance network in supporting state-by-state efforts towards implementing Restorative Justice.
Four Phases of the Justice System
“I am convinced that imprisonment is a way of pretending to solve the problem of crime. It does nothing for the victims of crime, but perpetuates the idea of retribution, thus maintaining the endless cycle of violence in our culture. It is a cruel and useless substitute for the elimination of those conditions–poverty, unemployment, homelessness, desperation, racism, greed–which are at the root of most punished crime. The crimes of the rich and powerful go mostly unpunished.
It must surely be a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit that even a small number of those men and women in the hell of the prison system survive it and hold on to their humanity.”
― Howard Zinn,
Phase 1: Prevention (Universal Population)
“Attendance. Chronic absenteeism is one of the most reliable predictors of at-risk youth behavior, such as drug abuse, dropping out of school, and future incarceration.”
Spiritual Roots of RJ
Aired on Nov 3, 2013
This informative documentary looks at restorative justice through the eyes of victims, offenders, judges, lawyers, First Nations elders and scholars of all different faiths.
Smashing the Pipeline
Aired on June 19, 2015
A growing number of restorative justice practitioners are determined to smash the “School to Prison Pipeline” that crams America’s jails and ruins millions of lives. Kids are learning respectful, accountable, remarkably wise ways of relating with others, making their personal relationships and communities stronger and safer.
Oprah and Thich Naht Hanh Excerpt – Powerful!
Aired on May 12, 2013
Truly insightful, deep and powerful. Oprah Winfrey via her incredible OWN network, talks to Thich Nhat Hanh about becoming a monk, meeting Martin Luther King Jr; The powers of mindfulness, insight, concentration and compassion, how to transform warring parties and how to deeply transform relationships.
WALK A MILE IN HIS SHOES – Empathy Wake Up Call
Uploaded on November 9, 2010
Simply a beautiful video demonstrating insight and compassion.
Phase 2: Intervention/Prevention (Indicated-Selected-High Risk)
There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.”
Denver, CO: Curbing conflicts in high school. Correspondent Hari Sreenivasan looks at a new approach to discipline that replaces suspensions with conversations. Watch Restorative Resources – Restorative Justice in Schools CA
Aired on April 19, 2013
Justice For and By Youth
Aired on March 14, 2014
Youth Courts and Accountability Circles are one of the most powerfully effective parts of the emerging Restorative Justice movement. Teenage offenders are challenged by juries of their peers, and by caring yet insistent adult volunteers, to make things right for their victims and their community.
Aired on February 20, 2014
At Hinkley High School in Aurora, Colo., students, parents and administration are meeting face-to-face to resolve student conflict with conversation. The number of physical altercations has taken a nosedive as this new type of disciplinary action, called “restorative justice,” replaces suspension. Hari Sreenivasan has the story.
Phase 3: Incarceration
“What explains the rise of racialized mass incarceration? It’s not racial differences in crime rates. To measure crime rates we must take into account poverty and age. Poverty correlates with criminal activity, both because those without resources are more likely to commit crimes, and also because the poor spend more of their hours in public spaces intensively policed by the state. Another factor associated with crime is youth, with young men in particular likely to engage in high-risk and anti-social behavior. Paying attention to these factors, when one compares crime rates across poor males in the high-crime ages of 15 to 18, it turns out that poor youth of color almost across the board are less likely to commit crimes than their white counterparts.37 Poor white youths typically report committing more crimes of all sorts than do minorities. Still, this means that, because blacks and Latinos are disproportionately poor and young relative to the population as a whole, they are disproportionately involved in crime, and perhaps this modest disproportion—not in the propensity to commit crime, but in the likelihood of being poor and young—explains arrest and conviction patterns. It does not. Young men of color are far, far more likely than young white men to be swept into the maw of the American crime control system, even when taking into account youth and poverty.”
Published on June 23, 2017
Meeting with a Killer 4 parts
Uploaded on July 7, 2011
Family members of a young woman that was murdered meets with one of the young men who killed her – now incarcerated & remorseful.
Phase 4: Reintegration/Re-entry
“Because the drug war has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color, when drug offenders are released, they are generally returned to racially segregated ghetto communities–the places they call home. In many cities, the re-entry phenomenon is highly concentrated in a small number of neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are a minefield for parolees, for a standard condition of parole is a promise not to associate with felons. As Paula Wolff, a senior executive at Chicago Metropolis 2020 observes, in these ghetto neighborhoods, “It is hard for a parolee to walk to the corner store to get a carton of milk without being subject to a parole violation.”
The Poetic Justice Project is a nonprofit program based in Santa Maria, CA which has as its mission the advancement of social justice by engaging formerly incarcerated people in original theater examining crime, punishment, and redemption.
Restorative Justice Resources
http://www.fullcirclerj.net/ Full Circle Restorative Justice (Colorado based)
http://www.rjcolorado.org/ Restorative Justice, Colorado
New York Times: Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?