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Restorative Justice



With better technology, more police, stiffer minimums, and bigger fails, we now “trail ‘em, nail ‘em, and jail ‘em” faster and harder than ever. Yet as crime is falling, both our prison population and our fear of crime keep rising. So something is terribly wrong. There must be a way to break the cycle of fear — to heal crime. And there is. It’s called restorative justice.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2001 issue of Spirituality & Health. Consider two women jolted by crime: Lorri Alexander caught a young man shoplifting from her store in Middlebury, Vermont. He had taken 50 cents’ worth of merchandise, and readily admitted it. She later learned that the young man had been in and out of foster homes and was unable to hold a job.Yet because of his already long record, the young man was heading for jail, a prospect that made Lorri feel terrible. One evening in July 1998 Terri Carlson was walking home with her husband from the annual community festival in Byron, Minnesota, when a four-wheel-drive pickup swerved into the gutter and slammed into them at 55 mph. Terri was thrown 150 feet and survived. Her husband died instantly. Even four hours after the accident, the driver, Eric, a 25- year-old deputy county sheriff, had a blood alcohol content 50% over the minimum for drunk driving. Yet Terri later discovered she couldn’t hate the driver. For one thing, she, too, had occasionally driven after drinking a little too much. “He was only 25,” she say …

Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program 19813 N.E. 13th Street Camas, WA 98607 360-260-1551

Addison County Reparative Probation Dept, of Corrections Probation and Parole 700 Exchange Street Suite 203 Middlebury, VT 05752 802-388-6723.

Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking School o f Social Work University of Minnesota 103 Peters Hall 1404 Gortner Avenue St. Paul, M N 55108 612-624-4923

Conflict Transformation Program Eastern Mennonite University Harrisonburg, VA 22802 540-432-4492

Barbara Stahura is a freelance writer in Tucson, Arizona. Her articles and essays on subjects ranging from spirituality to e-commerce have appeared in national and international print publications, as well as online. She is also a poet and sometime radio essayist.

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