Fortunately, for those of us who live in neighborhoods in Minneapolis, Restorative Justice Community Action had already figured part of the solution out.

Restorative Justice Community Action (RJCA) recognized, much sooner than I did, that the courts are overwhelmed with cases and that some of these “livability crimes” could be removed from the court system and addressed by the individuals and communities that were directly impacted by the crime. RJCA defines livability crimes as “activities like drug dealing and possession, soliciting prostitution, public drinking, public urination and disorderly conduct.”

An offender of one of these crimes has to have a history of nonviolence and be willing to participate in a restorative justice community conference. If they agree to this, charges are dismissed and the offender meets, face-to-face, with the community members who have been impacted by their actions. An outcome of these conferences is that offenders are required to repair the harm they have done through apologies, community service and sometimes personal development (such as chemical health assessments).

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