Common Justice Pushes Restorative Justice Program As Answer To Failed Reliance On Mass Incarceration
Feb 19, 2017 10:59 AM EST
A new idea that deals with the usual violence and mass incarceration situation of the United States was pushed recently by Common Justice, a Brooklyn-based advocacy group. The report, titled "Accounting for Violence: How to Increase Safety and Break Our Failed Reliance on Mass Incarceration," is based on national research and personal experience of the author. This emphasized that prisons can't solve America's violence problem.
According to Sentencing Law and Policy, the report authored by executive director of Common Justice Danielle Sered describes four principles to guide policies and practices aimed to reduce violence. These are: responses to violence should be survivor-centered, based on accountability, safety-driven, and racially equitable.
According to Washington Post, Sered admitted being a crime survivor herself. In her work, she had asked hundreds of crime survivors what they might want with the Criminal Justice System. Since the first principle in her report is that responses to violence should be survivor-centered, which means that considerations must be focused first on crime survivor preferences. According to the national poll conducted by Alliance for Safety and Justice, 70 percent of survivors prefer to see defendants not with imprisonment but with an alternative sentence, such as community supervision and treatment. Sered agreed with the survey.
Restorative justice program is the core of the Common Justice work, wherein its ultimate end is to reduce violence, provide services to survivors of violence and divert the people who commit these crimes from prison. As the second principle should be based on accountability, the person who did the crime should be held accountable. In the survey, the crime survivors are asked what they want to happen with the person who harmed them, will they go to prison or will they receive Common Justice? Out of 100, 99 of the crime survivors chose Common Justice.
Common Justice promotes also that responses to violence should be safety-driven, that means authorities or legislators should prioritize safety over politics. In the past and until today some politicians will always propose for regressive "tough on crime" legislation, police will revert to more aggressive strategies focus on punishment not on prevention, and prosecutors will secure convictions rather than justice and safety. The research proved this old system as ineffective. Law violators usually will go back to making another violation after receiving imprisonment from the previous violations they were convicted.
This time Common Justice will address the problem by focusing on crime victims. Included in the report's recommendation is to eliminate mandatory minimum to make way for alternative options that better meet survivors' needs and increase safety. Sered concluded in her report that it is time to put those values more powerfully visibly into practice than ever before.