Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Crime-fighting's new hero

Posted By on Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 11:59 AM

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The Indy has written pretty extensively about restorative justice in the past. Now you can find out about this revolutionary crime-fighting tool in person at the upcoming Restorative Justice Symposium.

Should be a very interesting event.

For those not in the know, restorative justice is a pretty simple concept: Instead of throwing people in prison, you find a way for them to make right what they did wrong. So maybe someone who spray-painted your garage door would spend the day scrubbing graffiti off your door — and off other sites in the city.

But restorative justice is more than that. It's about helping the criminal understand where his anti-social behavior stems from and how to change the way he reacts and interacts with the world. And — perhaps most important — it's about teaching criminals to empathize with their victims. Restorative justice programs show criminals how their crimes hurt real people. Sometimes this involves the perpetrator meeting in person with the victim.

The idea here is to change behavior rather than just punish behavior.

There's some good evidence that this stuff works. If you ever want to read a truly engaging, heartbreaking, and brutal account of the effect restorative justice methods on juvenile offenders, check out John Hubner's story of a revolutionary facility in Texas that's trying to rehabilitate the "worst of the worst." His book is "Last Chance in Texas: The Redemption of Criminal Youth."

Trust me, you'll never forget this book.

In the meantime, you may want to check out the conference. It's being held on September 23 and 24 at Beth-El Mennonite Church. The cost is $65 for one day or $119 for both days. The speakers are as follows:

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To register online go to www.pprjc.org. Call Lynn Lee at 719-640-1650 or Robin Spaulding at 719-641-2579 for more information.

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