You have likely heard the statistics before. The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. With less than 5% of the world’s population, US prisons house about 22% of the world’s incarcerated adult population (Roy 2013). 95% of prisoners are eventually released and two out of three ex-inmates re-offend (Prison Fellowship). With the Prison Industrial Complex fuelling a push for ever greater rates of incarceration, it is clear that the US is facing a crisis in the criminal justice system.
Restorative Justice offers a promising solution to mass incarceration and high rates or recidivism. Restorative Justice is a process that brings the victim, offender, and community together after a crime has occurred to talk about what happened, who was affected, and what can be done to make things right. Rather than being punished for an offense, the offender has the opportunity to repair the harms caused to the victim, family and friends, and the community. The process is highly successful. Re-offense rates following a Restorative Justice process are decreased to 10% and the participant satisfaction rate (for victims, offenders, and community members) is consistently above 95% (RJ Colorado). Through the process, damaged relationships are healed and the community is strengthened.
If you are interested in learning more about Restorative Justice, check out a local organization and consider volunteering.
Stay tuned for more information about Restorative Justice in upcoming newsletters including case studies that demonstrate the transformational impact of the process for both victims and offenders.