A-to-Z Challenge: Justice

Hello everyone! Lady Justice wants to say hello as well. This morning I read an article from opendemocracy.net :

Six boys, one cop, and the road to restorative justice

I’ve been meaning to explore a concept that caught my attention a few years ago. My former ethics professor once told us there was a Fulbright scholar in town where one of his research interests is in “restorative justice“.

In this article, six young men between the ages of 10 and 13 committed a felony and broke into a chemical processing plant. Officer Greg Ruprecht who was on the night duty, was shocked at how young they were, arrests them, and prepares to enter them into the US criminal justice system. Here is what he initially believed about justice:

Ruprecht believes his job is to arrest everyone who commits a crime and throw away the key. Justice means punishment: an eye for an eye, no questions asked. You do something bad and you get what you deserve. There’s a clear line to walk.

But what occurred at the chemical plant that night changed him forever by awakening a very different sensibility: instead of an instrument of vengeance, justice requires that we work to restore all those who have been injured by a crime.

The next morning, Officer Greg Ruprecht finds out that this case is redirected into a restorative justice process where in his skeptical mind was “an easy way out for offenders… some sort of hippie gathering where everyone would hug. ” The road to getting these boys’ lives back on track was different than he imagined.

Representatives from the boys’ families and the chemical plant discussed with the boys the consequences of their actions, possible life stressors that influenced their decision to break in, what they would do differently. Apologies were made, and contracts were created which involved a hundred hours of sweat equity and alcohol awareness classes. The boys would write about what they learned and it would be published in the newspaper.

Here’s what the officer learned from this experience:

  1. Money and time was saved going this route than the judicial process
  2. Face-to-face accountability where offenders directly listen to the victims
  3. The brain doesn’t fully develop until the age of 22 and fear-inciting prisons had a bigger impact on young adults.
  4. Recidivism dropped to ten per cent, and surveys showed high rates of satisfaction with the process among everyone involved
  5. Usual suspects weren’t cycling through the police department anymore

In conclusion, while this particular story worked out well, I do feel that there are a variety of cases that are more complex than this one. The article concludes with the following:

“The role of justice, as portrayed by Lady Justice’s scales, is to bring back balance, to make things right again. Punishment and the warehousing of human beings in prisons destroys vast amounts of human potential. By contrast, restorative justice meets the needs of everyone involved in the most humane ways possible – those who commit crimes, and those who suffer from them. In so doing, it brings humanity back into the justice system.

It converts a limited worldview based around isolation and individualism into a much more positive vision that is rooted in honesty, accountability, and the visible connection of causes with effects. And it works in concrete terms by cutting recidivism and costs. Most important of all, it nurtures new relationships and a strong sense of human unity. In this sense, the root power of restorative justice is love expressed in action. “

In the end, I think about a variety of rehabilitation programs such as this one in the video below.

Filipino, Philippines “Dancing Inmates” from Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), a maximum security prison, were treated to a visit by Michael Jacksons long-time choreographer Travis Payne and dancers Daniel Celebre and Dres Reid to learn performances from THIS IS IT.

Justice Quotes

Previous Posts in 2019 A to Z Challenge 

In response to:

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19 thoughts on “A-to-Z Challenge: Justice

  1. Good post on restorative justice. I’m very familiar with the topic and have referred many juveniles to it over the years. It’s based on Native American principles and involves a healing circle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting fact! I didn’t know about that. I like this idea of a healing circle realizing how connected we are to each other I suppose. I guess you’ve seen positive results from this process as well?


  2. Make Justice a business enterprise and everybody pays for the crime – even the innocent.

    I think it might need a modified version of the system though to deal with the large part of imprisoned criminals – the ones who are in jail for drug-related offenses/habits, or simply being poor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So, do you think justice is already like a business enterprise? As for modification…like shortened sentences?

      I was thinking about reading ‘Just Mercy’ by Stevenson later who mentions the shortcomings of the system

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have seen several reports on modern American penal institutions/systems where previously government owned and run prisons are being hired out to commercial (global) companies and their focus is on profit rather than justice or a safer society and rehabilitation. I fear my country might be inclined (or pressured) to follow suit. 😦

    By modification i was meaning more that the restorative justice where you face your victim is a little trickier in ‘victimless’ crimes or where the real victim is the perpetrator, such as a drug addict who sells drugs to pay for his habit. The ‘healing circle’ might then be better as a mentoring pair perhaps? With time served in the real world rather than an imprisoned one.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Wow! Those spaces look more like a Social Media company’s workspace than a jail!

        I have mixed feelings about rapists and murderers living in better quality accommodation than me and my mum do! ?? 😉

        As a way to reduce the likelyhood of convicts who have served their time and been released back into our community from returning to committing criminal acts in the future however, i have to say i’m for it.

        Prison has to be more about reforming/eliminating bad behaviours than punishment.

        Liked by 1 person

          • I’m pretty sure there have been a number of released prisoners who feel less safe/well off outside of prison than inside.

            Prison is not for everyone, but then neither is life in our current forms of reality! Some people need the highly structured form of routine/control the prison system enforces, but which much of society lacks. 😦

            Liked by 1 person

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