Friday, August 6, 2010

Restorative Justice

The Big Problem with the criminal justice system is that it is firmly wedded to the idea of causing mutual harm - you hurt me, so I hurt you back. That so few people recognise that this merely increases the sum of human suffering and social harm is an indictment on the popular imagination. Or a testament to the resilience of our atavistic urges to lash out at those who hurt us.

Restorative justice moves away from the idea that crimes are offences against the State and humanises them. Crimes are mostly about breakdowns in human relationships, a tear in the social fabric. And once re-conceived in this way it becomes more obvious that the solution is to try to repair that harm.

Restorative Justice schemes have a remarkable - and I mean stunningly so - effect on the re-offending rate. It's time to get our head away from prison and look back into our communities for solutions to social harm.


  1. The trouble with this suggestion is it presumes that communities still exist.

    With the feminist revolution, we have the effective abolition of men in the family, and in the schools, owing to easy and 'fashionable' divorce, and the empowerment of girls by 'girlyfying' the education curriculum.

    This has resulted in the breakdown of the communities; and feral kids forming their own chav culture.

    This suits central government just fine, for without the communities there will be no other gods before the state.

    Women become the neurotic and obedient middle-management, and men become uneducated mules, who must work or starve; whilst the bureaucracy gets to rule without effective opposition.

  2. That's some strange fantasy you got going on there Jimmy G.

    Talk of feral children and the upper hand that women apparently have ( when they still receive about 20 - 30 % less average wage than male counterparts) seems like something straight out of the pages of a rag like the daily mail, scapegoating and blaming everyone except the posh Eton boys now ruling the roost with their agenda of individualism and as a consequence, preserving their own privileges, damning and hurting the rest of us as they do.

    They have got their posh clubs and so on and we too have our communities, and I know which clubs I would rather be in, chavvy.

    Really like the post today, but perhaps Ben you could explain more about these restorative justice schemes? They seem very interesting, I don't think I have come across them before.

    Glad the blog is back and I hope you and your editor had a good break.

  3. Restorative Justice has been used in Australia and New Zealand for years, I believe it comes from the Maori tribes, where everyone affected by an incident sits down to discuss the incident, who and how they have been effected etc and what can be done to repair the harm done.

    It has been piloted in the UK in a number of areas, notably Northern Ireland and re-offending rates have been slashed. Victims get the chance to sit down with the offender and tell them the damage done, they don't have to, and likewise if the offender was likely to laugh in their face it wouldn't happen either. There are web sites that can explain the process much better if you google it.
    It often gives victims closure with such issues as 'why me?' and can also make offenders accountable to someone, rather than the faceless courts. It would be great with young offenders who are yet to build the armour that means they are beyond giving a fuck and are able to justify everything.

    On another note, what's happening with the AoP Ben? I got an Unlock newsletter and was expecting some announcement in Inside Times this month. It will be good to get a firmly established network of people speaking for prisons who can be trusted by their fellow cons, rather than organisations trying to make a pound note out of the situation.
    Can we have an update?

  4. jimmy giro- these are just my thoughts, but the reason chavs have feral kids is to do with housing. A small 2 up 2 down in my area is around £200k, for that you would need a deposit, and the thick end of £60K a year. private rent is expensive too, and you have no chance of social housing UNLESS you have kids, the more kids, the more points, and the government throw money at you. if you were in that boat, what would you do?

  5. I agree with SophieJ here. I get furious when I hear of this feminism crap. All along I thought it was because I was born and brought up in a different environment where there was no such a thing as feminism. We all pulled together and stayed together for survival. I am not a feminist, never have and never will. It might have started off as a great idea, but I believe it is now a word that suits some people at the expense of others - wealthy women for a start don't need to fight for women's rights. So why should the poor like us fight against our poor men so as to be called feminists?

    Ben is right, restorative justice is humane and therapeutic for both the offender and the offended. From my experience, it keeps communities together, but capitalism destroyed communities. Even my little village that was a close knit community when I was growing up is gone. Crime was unheard of when I was young, now you hear of all sorts, from rape to murder. My role models when I was growing up was my mother and aunties and uncles who used to work hard at fighting for others. Today, our role models who are paraded to us day in and day out are those with money - both men and woman and politicians who murder and cause havoc around the world.

    In restorative justice, it is not only about decreasing re offending rates, but it is about restoring human values - humanity (Ubuntu as we call it in Zulu). We should take a leaf from the Maori Tribe in New Zealand. It is similar to how my people used to settle disputes, both men and women discussing and debating until a solution is agreed and who ever is found guilty settled the debt rather than being vilified and indefinitely incarcerated and shut away from society. We had no media to spread filth about people, gossipers were excluded from conversations. Open and honest debates ruled my village and both men and women had a say in important issues.

    At 50 years of age, I am weary for being pounded left right and centre by both men and women, feminists, racists and mysogynists who just find my honesty too hard to deal with. I would not wish any of these idiots to languish in prison. What I would love though is to take each one of them for a round in the boxing ring without a referee!

    Hope you had a good rest brother ben.