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Aboriginal Notions of Justice: Questioning Relationships of Force.

Green, Ross
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) In Wanda D. McCaslin, ed., Justice as Healing: Indigenous Ways. Writings on Community Peacemaking and Restorative Justice from the Native Law Centre. St. Paul, MN: Living Justice Press. Pp. 61-64.

That relationships of force produce negative effects makes sense in light of the ineffectiveness of criminal punishment. While our clients generally dislike custody, their return rate is high. In our experience, the harsher these youths are treated by justice officials, the farther they get from the mainstream. Their families attest that the longer they are in custody, the worse they are when they finally return home. To state the obvious, our clients and their families agree that the use of punitive force to change these youths has been unsuccessful. When victims learn that the person charged has previously been before the youth court, even sentenced to custody, they wonder if the custody was too short, or they question whether custody works at all. In total, this “relationship of force” is not reducing recidivism or making for safer communities.


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