This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

August 21, 2013

The Future of Local Justice

Most of us have heard about the good work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was successful in South Africa. Now, imagine communities embracing this form of resolution, in which the victims and the offenders get together to work out a fair and equitable settlement for all concerned. This type of settlement includes punishment and help for the offenders and financial and emotional resolution for the victims---without directly involving the traditional legal system. The future of local justice is "Restorative".

"Restorative justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in an offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs and obligations, in order to heal and put things [as] right as possible." It is "rapidly gaining acceptance and support among educational, legal, social work, and counseling professionals", as well as community groups.

One of our Trend Alert subscribers, Anne Rarich is deeply involved in the restorative justice program in her community of Concord, Massachusetts. She is passionate about "Communities for Restorative Justice". In Rarich's view, "It is imperative to have a community process that allows people who have been harmed and those doing the harm to have a neutral and safe place to come together and work toward forgiveness".

She believes, "When people continue to hold on to old wounds, they stay in a state of victimhood, that keeps them from growing and enjoying life. "I have heard people say that forgiveness is self-preservation", Rarich continues. As a result of taking responsibility for their actions, perpetrators cannot hide from what they have done; they must face the consequences in order to feel reconnected to their community.

Unfortunately, when a crime is committed, our courts do not necessarily provide fully the kind of repair needed. These types of community resources provide alternatives to the adversarial process of our conventional legal system.

This kind of forward-thing solution, embraced on a local level, not only conserves valuable resources, but also provides more effective resolution for the involved parties. As local governments have fewer and fewer resources, look for these types of unconventional solutions to spring up to provide alternative solutions. Though this example is from the United States, organizations like "Why Me" in the United Kingdom and the international Center for Non-Violent in Brazil and Kenya already exist to support their communities locally.


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