Our criminal justice system is supposed to make us safer – but we all know that it’s not. And who knows that the most? Crime survivors. There is a myth in this country that we incarcerate people who commit crimes because that is what survivors want. But survivors of all backgrounds want a much wider array of solutions than those offered in our current punitive system, which only creates a revolving door of crime and recidivism. Part one of this two-part series Why Do We Need Restorative Justice? takes a look at a concrete way to bring the needs of crime survivors into the process of rehabilitating those who commit crimes in order to create a safer society for everyone. Through restorative justice programs, we can hold people accountable to their actions and their victims – and help set people up to make much better choices in the future. But this will only be able to happen when cities, counties, states, and our federal government start diverting resources from punitive justice programs to restorative justice programs.
Part two, Choices For A Change follows a youth case-study in Los Angeles. Year after year, thousands of children are lead down a career path of criminal behavior in large part due to the failure of our punitive justice system. Children who enter the juvenile jail system are 60% more likely to become repeat offenders and therefore more likely to enter the prison system as adults. Restorative justice programs on the other hand use behavior intervention and victim-offender mediation, successfully implemented by Centinela Youth Services (CYS) where they are successfully reducing recidivism rates and the number of children serving time in juvenile jails. The overall effect is positive for the children, the victims, and the community at large.
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