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Restorative justice can alter behavior of perpetrators, teach empathy

January 4, 2010

Q: What will it take for restorative justice to succeed in Memphis?

What will be needed is a larger presence of restorative justice in Memphis. Trained volunteers are needed to serve as facilitators. Positive, pro-social adults are needed to serve as mentors for youth who have been through the restorative justice process. Training is not expensive and local foundations could sponsor regular training for volunteers around the community.

Faith-based organizations can be a big help. Restorative justice appeals to many faith organizations because of the redemptive power it holds for offenders and the possibility of reconciliation with victims and families.

In the next few months, restorative justice plans for Shelby County will be developed and the plans will become part of the discharge requirements as the youth is readied to be released back into the community. Department of Children’s Services staff will monitor their progress and take necessary action if the plans are not being followed.

And the Department of Children’s Services already has a powerful ally in this project within Memphis City Schools. The Martin Luther King Jr. Transition Center will be the school where all youth will transition back into community life.

We no longer have to guess about what to do about juvenile crime — the evidence is before us. What we now have to do is dedicate ourselves to using what works. Restorative justice is one of those tools.

Read the whole interview.


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