There are as many ways and causes in which to get involved as there are people on this earth; recognizing our diversity, Justice by the Pen has begun its movement by focusing on seven interconnected social justice themes.
1. What is Restorative Justice:
Restorative justice is a new way of looking at crime. Instead of punishing the perpetrator for the crime she/he committed, it brings the victim, perpetrator, and community together to find a solution to the harm caused by a crime. Restorative justice acknowledges that the perpetrator may have been a victim her/himself of harm in the community which led her/ him to commit a crime. We want to support this method of addressing justice in hopes of it taking the place of retributive justice, where people punish the perpetrators through revenge such as jail time or the death penalty, which doesn’t improve the victim or community’s situation, and creates another injustice by taking away another person from their family without ever fully addressing the root cause of the crime in the first place.
2. The Issues:
Issues in any particular community will vary. Therefore, local JBP groups will spend time pinpointing the issues they feel are most pertinent to address. Below are potential problems local communities may consider:
- Punishment doesn’t work: Prisons as a form of deterring crime is clearly not working, as we have the largest prison population in the world.
- Violence: Violence is rampant in our communities, whether it is fist fights at school, gang-violence on the streets, or domestic/family violence.
- Addiction: Our society is rampant with addiction issues, whether it is addiction to drugs, alcohol, porn, cigarettes, consumption or wasting time.
- Community accountability: We do not feel accountable to one another as a community, so we send problems to the legal system, which detaches us from the problems within our communities and keeps us from policing ourselves.
3. Direct Actions:
Below are a few suggested starting points and direct actions. Each local youth group will identify their community’s needs and solutions. There are three levels of suggested activism; choose your ways and get involved: Learn – Advocate – Engage
Watch: Long Night’s Journey into Day
Advocate: Volunteer at the VERA institute, educate people about what restorative justice is (through literature or presentations in schools), advocate within the legal system for more restorative solutions to crime rather than prisons.
Engage: Organize conflict resolution sessions for smaller disputes in the community to prevent escalation, create a community mediation program, organize weekly circles where community members discuss how to reintegrate people back into the community with trust and accountability, constantly be on the look out for possible conflicts in your community and (of course, you must use your discretion because we don’t want you getting hurt) intervene with mediation, assist in community drug rehab/ alcohol/addiction programs to address addiction as a health issue rather than a criminal issue, teach tolerance to young kids in the community, create murals that bring different groups of people together, role mode.