Our justice system is problematic, people get sent to prison and get traumatized for life, family members get ripped from their family as they spend time in prison, innocent people languish in jail, and many poor people end up in jail more because they don’t have proper representation. Its a punitive system, where we feel like it is ok to treat people terribly because they are now ‘bad’. Its a system based on power and control of elements of criminal members of society, when what is considered criminal may not be widely agreed on within the society, e.g. usage of drugs
It is possible to build a system of justice that is less based on control and suppression, less based on ideas of right and wrong, less on a sense of revenge, whether it be overt or repressed, and more on harmony and healing. Its possible to create a more non-hierarchical, bottom-up, open collaborative justice system. And because this system would be non-hierarchical we do nothave to wait for the authorities and government to institute it.
This system is called restorative justice, where people are brought together ‘victim’ and ‘offender’, to understand each other, empathize, and to heal the hurt. It transforms relationships, transmutes negative emotions, and does not cast people out of society. Instead the possibilities of reparations becomes possible.
This is a system we can organize ourselves. One methodology is the Restorative Circles that was founded by Dominic Barter. www.restorativecircles.org . It offers a guide for people to begin to host restorative justice processes.
And there are other such restorative processes out there. Native American tribes used restorative justice systems. Non-violent communication, Theater of the Oppressed, and Arnold Mindell’s Worldwork are facilitation techniques which can provide scaffolding for creating restorative justice systems. To create a new justice system for our society, we can guide these restorative circles and other methods to virally self-replicate. The circles and methods can integrate with chaordic networks like Transition Town, Evolver spores, and the United Religion Initiative networks. The processes can then sprout like spores throughout the towns and cities of the world. In this Open Collaboration blog I have outlined a lot of ideas around how such viral self-replication can happen. Search through this blog and think about how apply these ideas to the justice realm.
As citizens begin to learn how to create real justice for themselves, we will begin to see the court system and the jail system as more barbaric remnants, and it will help our governments switch to a new paradigm that is kindler, gentler, and more healing for the world.