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“The public wants to be involved”: A round table conversation about community and restorative justice.

Wolf, Robert V.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2012) Center for Court Innocation.

The Center for Court Innovation, with the support of the US Bureau of Justice Assistance, has sought to promote dialogue and idea-sharing among practitioners on the subject. It hosted a roundtable conversation in 2000
among practitioners and academics, encouraging them to start defining community justice, articulating its values, and describing promising practices.
By enlisting the public as an active ally, community justice builds trust in government, which, in turn, helps
police and prosecutors build better cases. Community justice also allows agencies to go beyond merely responding to crime by promoting the development of collaborative preventive strategies. And by engaging volunteers
and community-based resources, community justice saves money, lessening pressure on public budgets. Seen
this way, community justice is a smart strategy, one that increases the system’s capacity for making neighborhoods safer and improves informal social controls that strengthen the capacities of communities to police themselves.
But community justice also has critics. Some have equated it with vigilante justice and questioned its ability
to engage communities in meaningful work, its effectiveness at achieving its goals, and even the way it defines
the word “community.” At the roundtable in 2000, some wondered whether community justice “drains
resources from other worthy efforts and widens the net of governmental control over poor and minority populations.”
As the number and variety of initiatives inspired by community justice has grown, the Center for Court
Innovation has continued to encourage discussion. As part of that effort, it invited a group of policymakers and
practitioners to its Manhattan headquarters in August 2011 to focusing on two themes: the strategies community
justice initiatives use today to engage ordinary people in their work and the emphasis many programs place on
restorative justice. (excerpt)


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