It has also challenged proponents of restorative justice. Is it better or worse at
reducing over-representation? Is it (potentially) any better at
incorporating awareness of broader social injustices in resolving
specific cases? If not, how can it call itself restorative
justice if it continues to reflect structural injustice?
A Working Group
charged with addressing
over-representation in a local jurisdiction adopted the following
operating principles to guide its work:
1. The concept of â€œover-representationâ€ must be clearly
defined and understoodâ€¦. The fact of over-representation alone does not
establish its cause. But its existence necessitates further
2. The Working Groupâ€¦ should focus on identifying areas of
over-representation and addressing areas of unfair over-representation
that are within their controlâ€¦. The [working group] should focus on
those where [justice system] agencies do have control.
3. Both the perception and the reality of inequities in our
criminal justice system are important. The effectiveness of any justice
system depends upon the communityâ€™s shared perception that it operates
fairly and equitably.
4. There are no immediate, short-term solutions to the public
perceptions and realities of over-representation. The causes of
over-representation are many and complex. Opinions and viewpoints about
these causes are diverse and strongly heldâ€¦. Action must begin now, as
the Working Group is proposing.
5. Some data relevant to over-representation are not readily
available or reliableâ€¦. In order to address over-representation on a
permanent basis, a comprehensive, automated data collection process
must be established that collects and reconciles data from all of the
criminal justice agenciesâ€¦.
6. Many public policies, within and outside of the criminal
justice system, affect the extent of minority
over-representation. Policies such as federal enforcement of
immigration and narcotics laws or the local enforcement of street
crime, may contribute to over-representation. Each must be
7. Any action plan adoptedâ€¦ needs additional community input
in order to be credible and effectiveâ€¦. A community outreach
process must be established that ensures a dialogue with citizens and
communities across the County about all of the causes of
over-representation and about the possible remedies.
Are these useful operating principles to guide
restorative exploration of the problem? Which would you change,
add, replace or drop?
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