Office of Restorative Justice

by Brian Casey | Apr 01, 2013
| 1 Comment

Summary:

Create an Office for Restorative Justice.

Every day in Saint Paul, countless people are affected by relatively minor quality-of-life crimes. These crimes barely register with the criminal justice system but have a huge impact on the community. Whether someone experiences crime directly, fears crime or feels harmed by another’s ignorance or disregard, the result often is withdrawal. Separation and withdrawal by definition is the end of community.

The dedicated people who make up our police department and court systems have been unfairly burdened with the task of righting all wrongs. They have neither the time or space to give quality-of-life crimes and citizen conflicts the intentional and thoughtful care they require. Meanwhile we have equally dedicated citizens whose wisdom, skill and generosity is underutilized, as their crime-fighting role has been limited to that of calling of 911.

We cannot arrest and incarcerate our way to freedom nor is inaction acceptable. The Office of Restorative Justice (ORJ) would coordinate the efforts of the Police, Courts, 17 District Councils and the Dispute Resolution Center towards the holistic repair of harm caused by crime and incivility.

Organized citizen groups within each District Council would bring their concerns to the ORJ. The eligible non-violent crime problems needing attention could be both discovered locally and managed locally. The work of the ORJ would grow organically out of the shared and unique needs of Saint Paul neighborhoods.

Neighborhood by neighborhood community members would have a say in what crime issues are targeted and how best the harm could be repaired.

About You

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About You

First Name

Brian

Last Name

Casey

City

St. Paul

County

Ramsey

Country

United States, MN, Ramsey County

Website (if you have one)

Names of others who helped contribute to my idea

Jeanne F. Zimmer

How did you hear about the Forever Saint Paul Challenge?

Table display at Union Depot

About Your Organization (if applicable)

Organization Name (if applicable)

St. Paul Police Department and the Dispute Resolution Center

Organization Website

Organization Phone

Organization Address

City

St. Paul

Organization Country

United States, MN, Ramsey County

Your idea

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Title of your idea

Office of Restorative Justice

Give us the highlights of your idea for making Saint Paul great (2,000 characters maximum or approx. 250 words)

Create an Office for Restorative Justice.
Every day in Saint Paul, countless people are affected by relatively minor quality-of-life crimes. These crimes barely register with the criminal justice system but have a huge impact on the community. Whether someone experiences crime directly, fears crime or feels harmed by another’s ignorance or disregard, the result often is withdrawal. Separation and withdrawal by definition is the end of community.
The dedicated people who make up our police department and court systems have been unfairly burdened with the task of righting all wrongs. They have neither the time or space to give quality-of-life crimes and citizen conflicts the intentional and thoughtful care they require. Meanwhile we have equally dedicated citizens whose wisdom, skill and generosity is underutilized, as their crime-fighting role has been limited to that of calling of 911.
We cannot arrest and incarcerate our way to freedom nor is inaction acceptable. The Office of Restorative Justice (ORJ) would coordinate the efforts of the Police, Courts, 17 District Councils and the Dispute Resolution Center towards the holistic repair of harm caused by crime and incivility.
Organized citizen groups within each District Council would bring their concerns to the ORJ. The eligible non-violent crime problems needing attention could be both discovered locally and managed locally. The work of the ORJ would grow organically out of the shared and unique needs of Saint Paul neighborhoods.
Neighborhood by neighborhood community members would have a say in what crime issues are targeted and how best the harm could be repaired.

Website address (if applicable)

Innovation

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What makes your idea different or unexpected? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

The process of Restorative Justice returns us to an ancient cultural practice that relied on face-to-face interactions and social feedback to regulate behavior. Modern American society has made it too convenient for individuals to leave the restoration of order and the maintenance of peace to others. Rabbi Abraham Heschel’s quote can remind us of our duty, “Few are guilty, but all are responsible.”

Within a restorative justice system, the violators of the community’s trust are held accountable and are guided towards personal reflection. For the offender and his or her supporters, full participation means less focus on punishment and more on diversion from a life of habitual criminality and the dignity of reintegration. Reintegration is critical because offenders do not disappear.

Impact

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This Entry is about (Issues)

How will your idea make a difference in Saint Paul? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

Managing conflict in a modern society is difficult. However, we should be reassured that we still possess important social inclinations better suited to more ancient or traditional times. And by sub-dividing our big city via the 17 District Councils we are able to apply dispute resolution practices on a smaller and more manageable scale. Our work will remain a struggle, but we will not be struggling with strangers.

The basis of restorative justice practices is the recognition of our interconnectedness. We are inspired to be our best selves when we use humane and inclusive approaches to solve problems. We honor one another through safe and structured storytelling. We recognize that harm-to-one is harm-to-all and that solutions to the problems of justice cannot exist in isolation.

Sustainability

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Why do you think people will recognize or remember your idea after it comes to life? How might it inspire others to do something similar in their community? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

Saint Paul is remarkable for its dedication to community engagement. If we wish to maintain our hard-won advantage and to derive maximum benefit from what we have built, then we must support creative efforts to manage crime, incivility and the fear of one another.

Unlike a punitive justice system, an adequately supported and funded restorative justice office will connect communities in ways that will resonate with those who love Saint Paul. Restorative justice processes are inspiring and transformative. It is what we would want for our loved ones, our neighbors and ourselves. It can be likened to emerging from the cold, dark and lonely damp basement of punishment to the sun-warmed kitchen of restoration. Once experience, all other forms of justice feel incomplete, feel unjust.

apolinario sasam said: In times like these, justice would be a breath of fresh air. - Adam LaFavre about this Competition Entry. - 2552 days ago read more >

Brian Casey updated this Competition Entry. - 2848 days ago

Brian Casey updated this Competition Entry. - 2850 days ago

Brian Casey submitted this idea. - 2851 days ago