There’s a new phrase in town, and it’s catching on like wildfire.
April 29th is the start date for a new CNN program based on this phrase. It is called The Redemption Project, and you don’t have to read very far before – there it is: restorative justice.
It is based on the reality that the criminal justice system does only half of the job and often leaves things worse than they were before.
Like many “new” things, it isn’t really all that new.
Schools, industry, and civil litigation have utilized the concept for decades with peer or conflict mediation, bringing together two opposing parties to work out their differences by learning to understand the other’s point of view. Its primary tools are empathy and compassion. It will never work 100% of the time, but it is effective often enough to justify its availability as an option in virtually all adversarial situations. And in the criminal justice system, when it does work, it seems to work better than anything else in restoring offenders and healing victims.
It is an initiative among others in the ACLU’s arsenal in its “Smart Justice” program, a program taking hold in every state and designed to offer effective and realistic solutions to our serious over-incarceration problem.
Tim Ryan, a contender for the next presidential election, states that when it comes to meaningful criminal justice reform, “. . . mindfulness and compassion must be a part of the national conversation.” Mindfulness and compassion are cornerstones of restorative justice programs.