The need for new ideas... alternative methods... of dealing with over-incarceration problems is evident. Today's challenges have ignited a growing interest in new approaches to conflict resolution through peaceful solutions that encourage community involvement. Restorative solutions can prevent conflict, drop-outs, truancy, crime, broken homes, school- and work-place tragedies, incarcerations and other community pain when implemented early and consistently. Restorative solutions steer people away from situations where they are likely to fail and introduce them to more successful positions. By teaching one child... reaching one person... we affect the world around them.
Under the ancient judicial system we now use, when one commits a crime, one incurs a debt to society. The judicial system is then charged with acting on the victim's behalf to determine blame and administer the punishment.
It is based on an ancient Roman theory "to each his own," or, in modern lingo, "if you do the crime, you do the time." Pain, suffering, isolation, deprivation, and death are viewed as primary ways of "paying for" the wrong that was committed.
The punitive system is centralized with the offender. It considers crime to be an act against the state and focuses on punishing offenders without forcing them to face the impact of their crimes. It largely ignores the victim and the community that is hurt most by the crime. It leaves a huge credibility gap regarding the effectiveness of the policies in place.
We tried that already... but it doesn't work.
Historically, the U.S. has implemented a variety of programs to improve upon the system. Hardly a stone was left unturned in our collective desire to create a better, fairer system. However, national statistics have sounded the alarm that current policies don't work ... our judicial process is broken.
The U.S. has five percent of the world population, yet incarcerates 25 percent of the world prisoners. The U.S. currently has 2.2 million people in prisons and jails... a 500% increase over the past 30 years. One in every 31 people is under some kind of correctional control. One in nine black, one in 28 Hispanic and one in 57 white children have an incarcerated parent, a majority serving time for non-violent offenses. It tears parents and children apart. These families are disempowered socially, economically and politically. Millions lose the right to vote and the ability to get a job and/or public benefits after prison terms are served.
While restorative justice does not take the place of the current punitive judicial system, it can be an effective alternative that is not soft on crime, yet offers real and lasting impact. Most people are imprisoned for non-violent crimes. Repetitive incarceration has become a powerful economic drain on taxpayers. It costs around $72,000 to house a juvenile each year compared to $7000 for a year's education. It costs around $19,000 to house an adult inmate. (estimates will vary) Booming private enterprise now scurries forth to manage for-profit prisons. The trend of over-incarceration has resulted in prison overcrowding with state governments overwhelmed with funding the rapidly expanding penal system while school budgets suffer from lack of funds. Zero Tolerance Policies have helped create a "school to prison pipeline" that makes our schools function more like jails than institutions of learning. The economic impact has been devastating. We can do better!
For some time now, the American justice system has faced growing dissatisfaction without positive change. Citizens are disconnected. Victims are dissatisfied. Offenders suffer high rates of recidivism and judicial and incarceration costs for the process are burgeoning. Families are suffering. Schools are failing. The news is filled with violent acts against fellow citizens. This dissatisfaction has led to a growing interest in introducing new approaches to many levels of our community interaction: schools, justice system, business, churches, and organizations. Restorative Justice Initiatives are committed to supporting victims and communities in the healing process.
Many who are already familiar with "restorative justice" understand that it's more than a term... an idea... or a process. It's a revolutionary theory of justice which challenged the fundamental assumptions in the dominant discourse about justice... with amazing results.
KCRJ has a mission to bring this revolution to Kentucky citizens.
We need your help!
It starts with one person bringing the idea to another, then putting processes in place that will constitute long-lasting change. It takes a team to roll the processes along to make it into reality.
"Kentucky Center for Restorative Justice (KCRJ) was founded in November, 2011 to build a dynamic and innovative social and restorative justice center to provide legal support for criminal and civil cases and to provide conflict resolution services for communities, schools and the justice system. KCRJ also focuses on poverty, immigration and human rights. Using education, litigation, restorative processes and other forms of advocacy and collaboration, the Center works toward the day when the ideal of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality. KCRJ works to eliminate hate and bigotry and seeks justice for the most vulnerable citizens of Kentucky." (Diana Queen, Founder)
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