Preventing crime and building safe communities is what counts. SafeGrowth is all those things. What happens if, in spite of best efforts, your home is burgled or a family member suffers violence?
Most people want payback. Mistaken for justice, it's really eye-for-an-eye, what the ancient Babylonians called vengeful retribution. Gandhi was fond of saying an eye-for-an-eye leaves everyone blind.
What do we actually get? The offender is removed from the community, tried, sentenced, and sanctioned (or not). Little, if anything, is actually returned (restored) to the community. Victims rarely feel satisfied. Without some kind of restoration, the offender eventually gets out of prison often worse than when he or she went in. That's the dilemma.
Restorative justice (RJ) answers this dilemma. It still removes violent offenders so they cannot harm others. But RJ expects offenders to repair the harm they've caused. It provides a chance for the neighborhood and victims to participate in resolving the harm. It helps restore victims and offenders back to a more healthy and positive life.
For details on how, a good RJ source is HERE. Another is HERE.
The RJ story is best told by Liz Elliott, especially her YouTube story about the 3 lies gangs tell. Watch it HERE. Also, check out her recent book, Security, With Care.
Disclosure: Liz is a friend from a long time ago. She became an award-winning criminologist specializing in RJ. We were students in the same criminology program. Back then PhD students occasionally hung out and shared stories.
One afternoon, boating up the Fraser River with a bunch of other grad students, I remember being impressed by the ethics of Liz's stories. At a time when my own academic experience thirsted for examples of integrity, her stories showed me what moving forward should look like. We might have been on water, but her values were so well grounded.
She built an academic career on that ethical ground. A quote in Secure reads "the idea is to become more competent and engaged as citizens in our homes and communities, so that we need to rely less on formal government institutions to address our problems." Exactly right Liz, that's it!
Yesterday, Liz Elliott passed away. A light has gone out.
Thank you Liz for your stories. You'll be missed by many.