Yes, lots of bad things are happening in the world, and we seem to be hit in the face constantly with that reality in our media and elsewhere.  But there are also lots of good things that are happening, and this edition will discuss one of those, which is the movement called Restorative Justice.  The fundamental basis for this approach is to bring the victim(s) of an offense and the perpetrator together, face to face, in a meeting monitored by a therapist.  The emphasis is basically to show the offender what effect the incident had upon the victim(s), on the one hand, and to explore the concept of forgiveness by the victims, on the other.  The intent is both to humanize the act in the eyes of the offender and to begin an important healing process for the victim(s).  And we are seeing success a great amount of the time in both of those areas.

                The idea of the criminal justice system is not to punish the offender, but is instead to reduce crime.  A big example of this is in the area of domestic violence.  If the batterer (mostly but not always a man) is forced to focus upon the position of the victim, as well as the physical and emotional trauma he has inflicted, statistics show that he is not nearly as likely to re-offend.  In addition, the healing and self-esteem process often get a jumpstart with the victims, which enables them more fully to get on with their lives.  But, all importantly, the victim is consulted by the court at time of the sentencing of the offender and, if leniency is being considered, this almost always requires the consent of the victim(s).  Happily, the approach has also been found to work well with burglaries and even assaults and batteries.  (But it doesn’t seem to work with tax offenses. . . .)  The lesson?  Like in many other aspects of life, humanizing the interactions among different parties can go a long way toward reducing friction and harm, and increasing empathy.  So progress is being made in the criminal justice system, and I thought you should know. 

Quote for the week:  “Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”  Viktor E. Frankl

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President