Sour Grapes and Saddle Sores
Restorative Justice Applied March 26, 2009
Lets begin with a definition of Restorative Justice, so that we are clear on what this is all about. Restorative Justice is the bringing together, at several levels, opportunities for victims, offenders, and community members to resolve offenses aside from the criminal justice system. The Restorative Justice System is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by criminal behavior.
Victims are central to the process and are given the opportunity to voice their pain, offenders are given the opportunity to take responsibility and be accountable for the harm they have caused, and community members are given the responsibility of creating solutions for stronger and safer communities.
This is new to me, there has been a restorative justice system in Illinois since 1997, when the State legislators made a commitment to Balanced Restorative Justice. There are two organizations at this time, McLean? County, States Attorney Generalâ€™s Office at Bloomington and MICA community, Paxton, Illinois. There is a web site to be found at the Illinois Attorney General's Illinois Youth Court Association: Balanced and Restorative Justice and Illinois Council on Balanced Restorative Justice in Paxton.
The Illinois Council is a comprised of 35 persons. There are over 300 persons who are involved in restorative justice in one form or another. Application of Restorative Justice is found in social justice cases, the courtrooms, victim/offended mediation, and in family group conferences. There have been Restorative Justice organizations in the United States since 1787, when the Quakers in Pennsylvania practiced restorative justice among its membership. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa all have restorative justice systems.
Restorative justice has been in the world since 600BC. It is found in the Pentateuch, and the code of Hammurabi 1700 BC, for two places. At the end of the Norman Invasion by William the Conqueror in 1066, his son Henry the First replaced restorative justice which saw crime as injurious to persons, with retributive justice which saw crime as an offense against the state.
There are more than 290 Restorative Justice Systems in the nation. The groups work at resolving problems for theft, fraud, entry into locked buildings, drunk driving, domestic violence, and drugs. This is done sometimes in the context of the courtroom but more often through the community or non profit organizations.
There has been an uneasiness for some time within our criminal justice system. Our courts are over-loaded and decisions have been wrong. Sometimes persons before the courts were judged to be guilty of crimes of which they were later found innocent. This has worried me and I looked into the matter and found the Restorative Justice system not only being used but is available to Illinois citizens.
Information can be found by going on the internet and search using the phrase, Restorative Justice, Illinois. The Illinois Council on Balanced Restorative Justice has placed information on the web.
As I understand the workings of restorative justice, it works along with retributive justice. Major crimes are handled through the criminal justice system and lesser troubles can be solved by joint action between the victim, the offender and the community. This means not passing laws or using force to produce results, but to go through the healing process that takes time. For this there is no magic pill, or quick fix.
It is good to know that the methods of caring for people and bringing justice to bear that have been used by the religious community are now back at work in the secular world.
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Created by. Last Modification: Friday 27 of March, 2009 15:04:03 UTC by .