....This is where Restorative Justice comes in. Restorative Justice (RJ) is a philosophy that believes in the power and influence of individual communities to work together toward improving the lives of everyone living in that community. In practice, RJ is collaboration between the perpetrator, the perpetrator's family, local neighbors, the DA and the police, and local government. The mechanism is a community meeting in lieu of a trial where the victim is part of the process and their needs are taken into account. One of the assumptions here is that the accused is taking responsibility for their crime without a legal defense.

How does RJ help communities? With a team of neighborhood members and community-based organizations working in collaboration with law enforcement and city officials, an integration plan is established to get the perpetrator re-integrated in society via a job, some form of training, or back in school. At the same time, a restitution plan is created where the perpetrator makes restitution to the victim. The result: Our police, courts, and jails are freed up to deal with those who really need them and are indeed dangerous to society.

Restorative Justice is a way for the community to set the terms of its own restoration. It is a way separating out social issues from hardcore criminal issues. It is a nuanced way of dealing with criminal issues that allows police to enforce serious crime while providing those in need with humane social solutions and services that divert them away from jails and back into our communities as functional members.

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