Restorative justice is a broad term, which encompasses a growing social movement to institutionalize peaceful approaches to harm, problem solving and violations of legal and human rights. These range from international peacemaking tribunals such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa to systemic implementation and innovations within our criminal justice system, schools, social services and communities. Rather than privileging the law, professionals and the state, restorative resolutions engage those who are harmed, wrongdoers and their affected communities in search of solutions that promote repair, reconciliation and the rebuilding of relationships. Restorative justice seeks to build partnerships to reestablish mutual responsibility for constructive responses to wrongdoing within our communities. Center for Restorative Justice, Suffolk University
Howard Zehr’s definition:
Restorative justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those
who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs and obligations, in order to heal and put things right as possible.
The Little Book of Restorative Justice, 2002, p. 37
Restorative Justice & The Peace Alliance
The Peace Alliance recognizes the exponentially growing movement of Restorative Justice to be one of the key systemic transformations occurring right now in the United States. It is a powerful on-the-ground response to the many issues our country faces pertaining to justice. Currently, we house over 1/3 of the world’s prisoners while we comprise less than 1/5 of the world’s population. The Prison Industrial Complex has vested interests to the tune of billions in profit every year in keeping prisons full. Corporate for-profit prison giants GEO Group and Correctional Corp. of America have led charges on state-run systems and are attempting to corporatize all aspects of criminal justice, including the profiteeering of health care services within the system. Our country has created a school-to-prison pipeline in its zero-tolerance policies and it emprisons one of ten young black males. It is estimated that half of the prison population has mental illness. Needless to say, a movement to respond to these issues and more is at hand. And then some.
The Peace Alliance strives to support the mobilization of this movement, its momentum building, to create advocacy and political will in systemic changemaking, and to provide educational opportunities that leverage an already-strong Peace Alliance network in supporting state-by-state efforts towards implementing Restorative Justice.
TPA’s recent and ongoing activities:
- Co-Sponsor of the popular international web/telecast series, Restorative Justice on The Rise, which is in its 3rd year and features powerful conversations with our world’s way-showers in Restorative Justice and beyond. Host Molly Rowan Leach conducts “council style” dialogues every Thursday at 5pmPT/8ET. It’s free, and accessible by web or telephone. Audio archives include conversations with Howard Zehr, Kay Pranis, Bryan Stephenson, Michelle Alexander, Dr. Johan Galtung, Grandmother Mona Polacca, Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, Mark Umbreit, Libby Hoffman of Fambul Tok, Arun Gandhi, and many other significant voices from across the U.S. and world.
- Supported a Colorado Coalition on Restorative Justice which helped to pass landmark legislation in 2013. The Colorado Coalition for Restorative Justice (CCRJ) is a growing group of professionals representing the various branches of justice and legislation, including advisement and cooperation with the State Restorative Justice Council, Representative Pete Lee, Officer Greg Ruprecht, and the established Peace Alliance state network and its leaders. The coalition formed to support the passage of HB 13-1254, The Restorative Justice Pilot Project (passed Summer 2013 and now law), and to explore ways to continue to engage in supporting the new law leveraging virtual conferencing and educational spaces. A few “virtual town halls” were hosted to publicly discuss the bill, as well as eblast actions and Letters to The Editor. The Coalition and test project in Colorado is a template that The Peace Alliance is actively seeking to share with other states moving forward with legislation, mobilization, and advocacy/education. We continue to partner with the leading advocates and practitioners to strengthen the national awareness of their work and support its growth in-state. Please direct questions to RJ Fellow Molly Rowan Leach here.
- Supporting a similar coalition in Massachusetts, working towards passage of Restorative Justice legislation. Their legislative session ends this July–please let your MA friends know to support Senate Bill 2078! We are working alongside Sen. Jamie Eldridge and his staff as well as a regional advocacy network including representatives from various areas of public service. Report from Restorative Justice Coalition of Massachussetts: Summary Supporters Factsheet
- Helped to create and currently promoting a Washington D.C. Restorative Practices Policy Platform. Cooperated with a growing local coalition to make Restorative Justice a campaign issue during the 2014 mayor and city council elections.
- Named a Restorative Justice Fellow and Advisor, Molly Rowan Leach, who also hosts the popular weekly webcast, Restorative Justice on The Rise. As an advisor to the President and staff, Ms. Leach supports state coalition building plans, produces educational offerings including the weekly series, connects state, regional, and national representatives from cross-spectrum within the field, and acts as a hub for inquiries about all of the latter for the general public.
- Working with a national committee to promote Restorative Justice state-by-state, providing strong connections between those who have achieved success in the recent past and those who are currently making strides. The Peace Alliance’s team is helping network key advocates from Colorado legislation and linking them with those working on the ground in other states, such as those mentioned just above. Contact Molly Rowan Leach for details.
Restorative Justice on the Rise
ABOUT THE SERIES
Restorative Justice on The Rise was founded by Peace Alliance Restorative Justice Fellow Molly Rowan Leach in September of 2011. She is the telecouncil host. In its 2nd full season the series provides a live dialogue circle for connectivity, education, action ideas and more regarding Restorative justice and the powerful times we are amidst as an old worn-out Prison Industrial Complex dies and punitive paradigms no longer are accepted as appropriate when crime and conflict occur.
The Restorative Justice on The Rise weekly telecouncil series features global guest speakers from many diverse backgrounds and areas in the field and related fields and has included powerful conversations with equally powerful leaders on community and global levels such as Kay Pranis, Robin Casarjian, Azim Khamisa, Steve Korr, The River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding, Arun Gandhi, Fleet Maull, Dr. Judith Thompson, Belvie Rooks and Dedan Gills, Lauren Abramson, Dr. Carl Stauffer, Michelle Alexander, Sujatha Baliga, Lois DeMott, Dominic Barter, and so many others doing significant work and sharing their stories.
The Peace Alliance is committed to mobilizing and educating while offering a greater depth of resources in this area and longer term plans include a clickable map for easy access to local, state, national, and global resources in RJ and related fields.
The telecouncil is a service of our collective part in transformation of our systems, and is for you, the people who matter, day to day, as we mobilize and change our world for the better, together. Thank you for your participation in this series, and please consider helping keep it free by contributing any amount, tax-deductible, to The Peace Alliance.
Restorative Justice Resources
SB 2078 MA RJ Bill Current Report (Spring 2014) from the Restorative Justice Coalition of Massachusetts
Slide Presentation from Dr. Gordon Bazemore: