As political and community discourse grows increasingly more divisive, many of our institutional responses to conflict and violation seem to escalate fear, estrangement and regrettably, a desire for retribution. In instances of protracted conflict and violation, where do we find safe “containers” that can hold a diversity of voices as well as the complexity of issues that our communities and institutions face today? One option, I believe, can be found in applying principles and practices derived from restorative justice.
My work in the field of community justice field has focused on building capacity in communities and, in effect, getting justice out of courthouses and into neighborhoods. Using this construct, citizens are invited to play active rather than passive roles in determining the shape of justice and become more directly involved in redressing the quality of life issues that are breached by crime. Imagine if you can, the neighborhood as the principal mechanism for sentencing low-level offenders where repairing harm to victims, reestablishing trust in neighborhoods lost through crime, and building personal and group competencies takes precedence of traditional judicial sanctioning practices. For offenders, imagine accountability as being directly responsible to those you have harmed rather than to impersonal representatives of a system. These results are being achieved daily through programs such as community justice centers, community accountability boards, reparative panels and other community-centric alternatives to traditional justice.
- Restorative Practices: A Toolbox for Turbulent Times (Allena, McKnight, Block)
- A New Paradigm for Responding to Athletics and Sportsmanship Violations (Allena)
Home page image: Jason Mrchina