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Thread: Restorative Justice

  1. #11
    Senior Member Array Lark's Avatar
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    Jun 2009


    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen View Post
    Oh hai, welcome to the world since the 70s in the Episcopal Church.
    I'm just as religiously homeless as I am politically.

  2. #12
    Senior Member Array Lark's Avatar
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    Jun 2009


    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen View Post
    I would agree that it isn't "really something to get excited about" except that our communities/families in the US don't generally work this way anymore. The community (and the smallest community, the family) is not as often valued as a deciding unit--something I think we can blame both the right and the left in politics on--and so any kind of empowerment (not the best word--the community should always already have the power, and it shouldn't be given by anyone, but that's not where we are right now) for communities and families I think is very exciting.
    In the UK a lot of the cuts are blatantly resource driven decisions, its a vicious and organised wealthy class exploiting public hatred of individuals in receipt of benefits but the rhetoric which accompanies it is often one which suggests that the resourcing of the formal state interventions is only serving to further erode and undermine the informal alternatives. If it were more than rhetoric I'd be sympathetic to that position.

    I am sure it doesn't work perfectly, but I wonder if, in the absence of a powerful community and the relationships that are developed therein, restorative justice is not as likely to work well because a youth (since you're right--typically restorative justice involves young people who have committed offenses) doesn't feel any more responsible to his or her community than he or she does his "state." If a community had more of a "tribal" kind of feel (not necessarily tribal, but extended family), I wonder if it would work better.
    I think what you're describing, and I dont like the "tribal", or I've sometimes heard it called "primal", communitarian idea, is social conscience, or conscientiousness per se. I do think that its abscence is a serious problem. Although if it existed and did so with real prescence restorative justice or any other sort of justice would be less of a requirement anyway. The individual's conscience should be enough to control and prevent anti-social behaviour, failing that the conscience of their peers or other close personal ties. Those things dont exist now. Instead there's myriad excuses and some of them well worked out, some of them supported tacitally by the media or popular culture.

    What? It's a fact that more and more prisons are privately owned and operated in the United States. And it is also a fact that those owners have particular political interests. I judge that as problematic (and I judge some other cultural status quo items as problematic too, including some aspects of the "social industrial complex"--obviously I have a bias towards small communities making a lot of decisions for themselves, for example).
    What if those "small communities" are prison industrial complexes and making a lot of decisions for themselves which are at odds with your vision.

    Some of those prisions are of pretty high and good standards, I've seen them on TV and in documentaries, not cheap "world's hardest criminals" style TV but documentaries examining the so called "prison industrial complex" issue. What are the political interests you are talking about.

    Yeah. Again, I wonder if it isn't necessarily that there need only be "consequential thinking" (although I agree that YES, OBVIOUSLY CONSEQUENTIAL THINKING IS GOOD) but that there needs to be a cultural foundation of responsibility to (and moreover, significance in) one's community, which I think is pretty lacking in American culture (especially youth culture).
    Social conscience is lacking internationally or universally. Although I dont know what people expect, just about every source of principles and values besides the Randian underpinnings of late capitalism have been undermined by both the left and the right.

  3. #13


    Hey There,

    Reading this thread has been really interesting but I thought I would clarify some things about restorative justice. RJ does not yet have a 'universal' definition - it is an approach, or philosophy that is based on specific values, including accountability, inclusiveness, respect, reparation, etc. There are many form of Alternative Dispute Resolutions that can be considered a form of RJ - it is not limited to victim-offender mediation, as many people seem to believe. Another common misconception about RJ, is that it is meant to be an alternative to the traditional criminal justice system. In actuality, RJ practitioners attempt to work alongside the justice system. That being said - because RJ is a flexible approach to dealing with harm and conflict, there are organizations that run 'diversion' programs that are used as an alternative to court - but not all organizations run RJ Court Diversion programs. There is a plethora opf organizations that use RJ processes after an offender has been sentenced/completed said sentence.

    The traditional justice system tends to consider a crime to be against the state, rather than against the victim. The victim is often left without support or closure after a criminal proceeding. Also, once an offender gets his/her sentence and get put into jail, the offender is completely isolated from the effects his crime has had on the victim and community. RJ processes are used to restore the balance and as an attempt to heal the harm from a crime. Forgiveness, although it is a wonderful outcome, is not expected, and is not the goal of RJ processes. RJ is not always successful - but it does have a lot of success stories - including from individuals who have gone through RJ Processes in cases involving sexual assault, rape and murder. If anyone is interested in any success stories I would be happy to provide info.

    I have seen a lot of un-researched statements on this thread about the effectiveness of RJ and the unlikeliness of people being able to be truly remorseful. While it does happen that people are unremorseful, that does not necessarily mean that this is the "norm". It is truly unfortunate that people on this thread have had negative experiences with RJ - in Canada, many of our organizations use processes to ensure that an offender is interested in going through an RJ process beause they are remorseful, and not for personal gain. One way they accomplish this is that the inmate or offender is not allowed to put his participation in RJ on any documentation (so it will not effect future parole decisions).

    If anyone would like to view a really good documentary from the US about RJ, check out the film 'Concrete Steel & Paint' - if you google it you can get a trailer and contact info for a free screening.

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