Justice Matters in Lawrence, Kansas
Systems that heal and restore rather than punish and exclude sit at the intersection of Justice Matters' individual priorities:
- Expanded Mental Health Treatment
- Restorative Justice in Schools
- Criminal Justice Reform
For these reason, Justice Matters is committed to making Douglas County a "Restorative Community".
Restorative Justice is a form of justice that seeks to repair the harm caused by misbehavior (e.g., adults perpetrating crime, students acting out in the classroom).
Restorative Justice is often understood in contrast to its competitors:
- Retributive Justice (i.e., "getting back" or punishing to engender behavior change)
Incapacitation (removing/isolating/incarcerating perpetrators to prevent further misbehavior).
Restorative justice views misbehavior as more than code violations – it also causes harm to people, relationships, and the community. So a just response must address those harms as well as the wrongdoing. If the parties are willing, the best way to do this is to help them meet to discuss those harms and how to about bring resolution. Other approaches are available if they are unable or unwilling to meet. Sometimes those meetings lead to transformational changes in their lives.
There are three big promises conveyed in the spirit of Restorative Justice:
- Repair: people cause harm and justice requires repairing that harm;
- Encounter: the best way to determine how to do that is to have the parties decide together; and
- Transformation: this can cause fundamental changes in people, relationships and communities.
There are formal programs that are called "Restorative Justice" like a Restorative Circle in schools where students who acted out in a class meet together with peers and anyone harmed and they discuss their actions with the assistance of a trained facilitators.
Other practices are known as restorative justice because they address the underlying drivers that led to the harm (e.g., drug treatment for an addict who is stealing, etc.). Justice Matters is interested in pursuing restorative justice in its formal and informal applications.