Hello everyone! Lady Justice wants to say hello as well. This morning I read an article from opendemocracy.net :
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:
- Money and time was saved going this route than the judicial process
- Face-to-face accountability where offenders directly listen to the victims
- The brain doesn’t fully develop until the age of 22 and fear-inciting prisons had a bigger impact on young adults.
- Recidivism dropped to ten per cent, and surveys showed high rates of satisfaction with the process among everyone involved
- 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.
In response to:
- FOWC with Fandango: track