Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Prison Alternatives: Restorative Justice

As you may or may not know, I'm a prison abolitionist. We tried to reform the prison system, but over time it has reverted back to a place to store "undesirables" in horrific conditions that just barely keep them alive without any semblance of rehabilitation, plus also slavery. Prisons began as just another way to enslave black people. There's no reforming something born out of such evil.

People tend to hear "prison abolition" and freak out because they think it means immediately throwing open all the prison doors and releasing all the boogeymen into their neighborhoods. This is a result of propaganda. It's also completely inaccurate. The prison abolition movement is about working toward prison alternatives and building toward a society that no longer needs prisons.

It can be difficult to envision alternatives due to the fact that we've all grown up in a society that takes it for granted that prisons have to exist. As though prisons are as inevitable as death or natural as air. They're not. Case in point, people are already coming up with alternatives.

A different path for confronting sexual assault

This article is amazing because it speaks to a personal conflict I have between wanting to abolish prisons and wanting to punish sexual predators. I absolutely understand the anger and the desire to get revenge and to hurt back. But objectively, we all know that what's better for everyone in the long run is restorative justice.

Restorative justice brings those who have harmed, their victims, and affected families and communities into processes that repair the harm and rebuild relationships. This can take several forms, such as peacemaking circles and conferencing models. Restorative justice can help resolve nearly any kind of wrongdoing or conflict, including serious harms such as robbery, burglary, assault — even sexual and intimate partner violence, and even murder. 
The process invites truth-telling on all sides by replacing punitive approaches to wrongdoing in favor of collective healing and solutions. Rather than asking, “What law was broken, who broke it, and how should they be punished?” restorative justice asks, “Who was harmed? What do they need? Whose obligation is it to meet those needs?” At its best, restorative justice produces consensus-based plans through face-to-face dialogue that meets the needs of everyone impacted, beginning with the crime survivor.

Read the entire article, because it's all amazing. This kind of thing could go such a long way in ending rape culture and toxic masculinity. It's so much better than a justice system in which two sides compete like it's a fucking sport. Where defense lawyers are encouraged to obscure the truth in order to "win." This is why lawyers got the reputation of being sleazy. It's not actually their fault, this is just how our current justice system works. But it doesn't need to be that way. The current system isn't ideal just because it exists like that right now.

We can have something so much better. You just have to let yourself imagine it.

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