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Restorative Justice in Minnesota and the USA: Development and Current Practice

Pranis, Kay
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Visiting Experts’ Papers, 123rd International Senior Seminar, Resource Material Series No. 63, pp. 111-123. Tokyo: United Nations Asia and Far East Institute For the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders. Downloaded 10 February 2005.

Restorative justice has ancient and widespread roots. Processes that focused on repair of harm and
acknowledgement of wrongdoing were a part of most ancient cultures and are still practiced today among
many indigenous people around the world. Many of us use such practices in our families and social
communities. However, the formal justice system in Western societies in the late 20th century was not based
on the philosophy of restorative justice. Several streams of change have influenced and informed the
contemporary movement to shift the basis of the formal justice system to a restorative one. The feminist
movement raised questions about male models of justice that are rule-based but not sufficiently contextual or
caring. The victims’ movement illuminated the woeful lack of attention to victim needs and interests. The
shift in social work from a deficit orientation to a strengths orientation challenged basic assumptions in criminal
justice practices. The alternative dispute resolution movement in the legal field offered new models for
working through conflict. In the field of business the movement toward flattening hierarchies and empowering
workers marked a shift from relying on ‘power over’ for the desired ends to using ‘power with’. The
communitarian movement suggested that active community participation in decisions affecting community life
is an essential element of a healthy society. The growing movement for recognition of indigenous
understandings and ways of life has provided a conceptual framework of inter-relatedness and practical models
for community based responses to wrong-doing. The restorative justice framework is consistent with all
these streams of change and gains energy and insight from the work in those fields. (excerpt)


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