Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice
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Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice
Expanding the critical perspective of justice to suggest restorative processes and ADR as tools for reparation.
Curated by Rob Duke
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The “Recidivism Trap,” Or Why Measuring Failure Is the Wrong Way to Determine Whether Justice Policies Work |

The “Recidivism Trap,” Or Why Measuring Failure Is the Wrong Way to Determine Whether Justice Policies Work | | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it

When we look at how well or poorly a program or strategy in the criminal justice realm is working, the gold standard of assessment has traditionally been whether or not the strategy lowers recidivism rates.

Yet, in an intriguing new paper published this month, nationally regarded justice reform experts Jeffrey Butts and Vincent Schiraldi caution against falling into the “recidivism trap.”

When used as the sole measure of effectiveness, Schiraldi and Butts write, “recidivism misleads policymakers and the public…” and “focuses policy on negative rather than positive outcomes.”

Recidivism is not a comprehensive measure of success for criminal justice in general or for community corrections specifically, according to the two authors. When used to judge the effects of justice interventions on behavior, the concept of recidivism may even be harmful, “as it often reinforces the racial and class biases underlying much of the justice system.”

And that’s a big problem say Butts and Schiraldi.

Rob Duke's insight:
Measure instead: "desistance".  These are things that show a tendency towards more positive modes of living, like:

1. Getting older and maturing 
2. Family and relationships 
3. Sobriety 
4. Employment 
5. Hope and motivation 
6. Having something to give to others 
7. Having a place within a social group 
8. Not having a criminal identity 
9. Being “believed in”

So, given this, what changes could we make in our Justice System:

1. Insist That Recidivism Comparisons Involve Appropriately Matched Groups;
2. Use Other Measures to Assess the Effectiveness of Justice;
3. Increase the Policy Salience of Desistance;

Put another way, this is similar to that old illustration that firefighters present as the most basic fire education in school: the fire triangle.  Remember that on the three sides there was fuel, heat, and oxygen.  The idea was that if you take away even one of these, then the fire goes out.  This model is very similar at it's most basic level, because we know from research that crime is an intersection of economics, social disorganization, and maturity, thus this model seeks to bolster all three conditions by creating a sort of fire triangle matrix with employment, relationships, and maturity as the most basic factors that we seek to address.  This is a fundamental change from simply warehousing offenders in a punitive or incapacitation model waiting until they "age out" of crime.
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Rob Duke's curator insight, March 26, 10:50 AM
Measure instead: "desistance". These are things that show a tendency towards more positive modes of living, like: 
1. Getting older and maturing 
 2. Family and relationships 
 3. Sobriety 
 4. Employment 
 5. Hope and motivation 
 6. Having something to give to others 
 7. Having a place within a social group 
 8. Not having a criminal identity 
 9. Being “believed in” 

So, given this, what changes could we make in our Justice System: 
 1. Insist That Recidivism Comparisons Involve Appropriately Matched Groups; 
 2. Use Other Measures to Assess the Effectiveness of Justice; 
 3. Increase the Policy Salience of Desistance.

Put another way, this is similar to that old illustration that firefighters present as the most basic fire education in school: the fire triangle. Remember that on the three sides there was fuel, heat, and oxygen. The idea was that if you take away even one of these, then the fire goes out. This model is very similar at it's most basic level, because we know from research that crime is an intersection of economics, social disorganization, and maturity, thus this model seeks to bolster all three conditions by creating a sort of fire triangle matrix with employment, relationships, and maturity as the most basic factors that we seek to address. This is a fundamental change from simply warehousing offenders in a punitive or incapacitation model waiting until they "age out" of crime.
Dustin Drover's comment, March 31, 3:25 PM
This was a very unfamiliar and informative read. I never even thought about how changing what you measure as a way to change the out come. It seems as though all we care about is recidivism rates, which makes sense because it is a fundamental problem with our justice system. This article gave great insight to how we can change that problem by changing how we view and measure it. I like how they explained how measuring positive outcomes would inspire corrections staff to “to pay more attention to connecting clients with services, supports, and opportunities that facilitate desistance,” and I couldn’t agree more. When we focus on the bad things someone does we internalize our image of them as bad or “a lost cause”, but if we focus on their positive traits we also give them the feeling that someone believes in them. And when we feel that, we habitually want to do better because it means something.
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Community work for mother's prison smuggling bid

Community work for mother's prison smuggling bid | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
A Tuahiwi mother-of-three will spend months doing her community work after her failed attempt to smuggle contraband into Christchurch Men’s Prison inside her underwear.

Horiana Tearamatanga Falwasser, 24, told police she would have been paid $100 for delivering the two packages tightly bound in black and red electrical tape to an inmate.

They were found hidden in her underpants during a routine search on August 9 as she entered the prison to visit an inmate.

The packages contained 40 Tramadol tablets, 150g of tobacco and papers, two micro cell phones, and a charger.

Falwasser said they had been prepared for her by someone else and she thought they contained tobacco. She admitted the breach of the Corrections Act last month, as well as charges of stealing tools from a tradesman’s vehicle at Sumner, and failing to come to court on bail.

When she pleaded guilty, the judge referred the case for a possible restorative justice meeting with the tradie, but that meeting never happened.
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Deanna Van Buren wins the 2018 Berkeley-Rupp Professorship and Prize

Deanna Van Buren wins the 2018 Berkeley-Rupp Professorship and Prize | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Her portfolio with DJDS includes a handful of peacemaking centers, roving villages, and housing units for youth in both Syracuse and Oakland, among other places. Her latest project is Restore Oakland, a restorative justice and economics center in East Oakland that, when open next spring, will be the first of its kind in the United States. Her team also recently launched the Pop-Up Resource Village in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, which brings resources and dynamic programming to in-need communities of color via mobile architecture and nature.

Van Buren believes in the power of design and creative placemaking as means to help keep people out of the jail system and provide room for healing as well as training on the systemic injustices that stem from inequality. “Architecture is a potent medium for shifting and solidifying and fomenting movements,” she said. “We can’t do much without space. We can’t launch movements without a place for us to gather that is safe and nourishing.”
Rob Duke's insight:

Eyebrow raised in the universal "question mark".....a world without prisons you say?  Ok, I'm listening: convince me.

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Donald Trump Endorses Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Bill

Donald Trump Endorses Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Bill | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
The bill, backed by Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner, would bring major changes to the federal prison system.
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Supreme Court Declines Case Challenging New Jersey's Near Elimination of Cash Bail - Hit & Run

Supreme Court Declines Case Challenging New Jersey's Near Elimination of Cash Bail - Hit & Run | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it


Tinnaporn Sathapornnanont / Dreamstime.com
The Supreme Court has declined to get involved in the debate over limiting the use of money bail to control who is freed from jail prior to trial.

The court has turned away a lawsuit challenging New Jersey's nearly two-year-old bail system. New Jersey's system has all but eliminated the use of money bail. Instead, defendants are evaluated via risk assessment tools and freed under various levels of monitoring or detained if prosecutors make a case to a judge that there's no other way to make sure the defendant shows up for court or is a public threat. People are no longer being jailed in New Jersey simply for lack of money.

These reforms represent a huge financial threat to the bail bond industry and the insurance companies that underwrite it. So they've been trying to find ways to block these changes. One insurance underwriter assisted a defendant, a man named Brittan Holland, arrested in 2017 over a bar fight. Holland attempted to fight the reforms because it denied him the opportunity for cash bail and instead forced him into home detention and electronic monitoring as a condition of release. He and the insurance company argued that this violated his Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights. Essentially he was claiming that he should be allowed to pay the money and not be subjected to additional monitoring.
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The vertical system has so much inertia that it is difficult to change.

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In Sacramento, trying to stop a killing before it happens - The

In Sacramento, trying to stop a killing before it happens - The | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
A program targets young men with cash incentives to end gang-related violence.
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Law Professors And Students Want Restorative Justice

Law Professors And Students Want Restorative Justice | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
They want to change the second noun in Crime and Punishment.
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How restorative justice has rolled out at KIPP schools, one at a time

How restorative justice has rolled out at KIPP schools, one at a time | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
KIPP network officials are allowing each of its regions to decide how to adjust how they discipline students — a strategy that builds buy-in but also comes with costs.
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Daughter's murder becomes chance for restorative justice for her killer - Angelus News - Multimedia Catholic News

Daughter's murder becomes chance for restorative justice for her killer - Angelus News - Multimedia Catholic News | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
What could have been another senseless murder in a society with too many of them already was transformed into restorative justice for the killer and healing for the victim's parents. Kat
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Florida Amendment 4 results: ex-felon voting rights restored via ballot initiative

Florida Amendment 4 results: ex-felon voting rights restored via ballot initiative | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Florida Amendment 4’s victory means more than 1 million people will regain the right to vote.
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Long Beach center, police create mental health training video series –

Long Beach center, police create mental health training video series – | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Called the Roll Call Mental health Training Video Series, it has taken more than a year to complete.
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Prison/Court Video Links: Tips for Judges (TJ Court Craft Series #13)

Prison/Court Video Links: Tips for Judges (TJ Court Craft Series #13) | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Magistrate Pauline Spencer (Victoria, Australia) writes.... With the emergence of technology and pressures on prison/court transportation, the use of video links between prisons and courts are becoming more commonplace. Studies have shown that video links impact on people's experience of the justice system.  In University of Sydney's Law School Dr Carolyn McKay's qualitative interviews : Prisoners…
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Man admits blizzard of sex messages with 13-year-old

Man admits blizzard of sex messages with 13-year-old | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
He ordered a pre-sentence report to cover Alsop’s suitability for home detention, and referred the case for possible restorative justice meetings with the victims.

He also ordered a psychological report on how Alsop should be dealt with at sentencing.

Alsop has had interim name suppression until his appearance yesterday, but defence counsel Josh Lucas said the order was no longer sought.

Crown prosecutor Ruth Harcourt said the offending had had a significant impact on the girl victim.

Ms Harcourt said the offending began after the girl was a passenger in Alsop’s car and dropped her cellphone in the footwell. He offered to ring it to help her find it, and that meant he had her phone number.

He began texting her daily and quickly “escalated” the messages. He referred to her as his girlfriend, told her he loved her, and offered to buy her gifts. Ms Harcourt said: “The victim did not share these feelings and felt very uncomfortable.”

In less than two months, he exchanged 1300 instant Facebook messages with her and 18,000 texts. He repeatedly asked for intimate photographs and sent naked photos of himself. At Alsop’s request, the girl sent five intimate photographs of herself.

He arranged to meet her four times, saying it would help him play sports. They met at a park, and once at her school. He asked that they be intimate during the meetings and hugged her and tried to kiss her but she turned away.

On their last meeting, he touched her breast and tried to put his hand in her pants but she squatted down to stop him.

Alsop also befriended a pre-teen boy, showing him pornographic images on his laptop and telling him how to access the sites. He showed the boy messages of a sexual nature exchanged with women.

Police executed a search warrant on Alsop’s address in Christchurch and seized several laptops and an iPhone which were analysed by the Police Digital Forensic Unit. Police found the intimate photographs of the girl on his phone.
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Colorado anti-bullying program among best in U.S.

Colorado anti-bullying program among best in U.S. | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Colorado's newest anti-bullying program is being fueled by proceeds from legal marijuana sales and earning local and national praise from students, teachers and watchdog groups for its effectiveness.
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One law for all or one justice for all?

One law for all or one justice for all? | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Dr Moana Jackson, one of Maoridom’s most influential legal scholars, has a question for New Zealand: are we “brave and imaginative enough” to stop insisting on one law for all.

“In the end, the goal of being just, the goal of restoring relationships, is not so much about one law for all but one justice for all,” said Jackson, a Victoria University of Wellington alumnus and honorary doctorate, who was speaking at a University-organised conference on restorative and Māori justice approaches to the country’s prison crisis.

“It seems to me there is always more than one way of achieving justice. People in different countries have quite different ways of achieving justice that are consistent with their history, with their culture and with their way of understanding what justice means.”

New Zealand’s criminal justice system, said Jackson, is one imposed on Māori in 1840 with the Treaty of Waitangi and “built initially on the subjugation of Māori legal processes, the denial for a long time that Māori even had law or legal processes”.

Before 1840, there was a system that “wasn’t based in London. It grew out of the stories of this land, it grew out of the ineffable hopes of this land, as any true justice system does”.

It was a system – and a language – that didn’t even have a word for ‘prison’.

“The idea that you would isolate someone from the circumstances that had led to their wrongdoing was simply culturally incomprehensible.”

One of the biggest barriers to addressing the overrepresentation of Māori in prisons is that the debate is divorced from the question of political power and who wields it, said Jackson.

It ignores that “the early dealings of the current legal system were targeted almost entirely at Māori. That Māori were in prison for opposing and resisting the imposition of colonial power. That Māori were actually persecuted for opposing the imposition of colonial power.
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John Rosemond: Taking away punishment for teachable moments | Features/Entertainment | herald-dispatch.com

John Rosemond: Taking away punishment for teachable moments | Features/Entertainment | herald-dispatch.com | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
For the record, I believe in the concept of public (aka, taxpayer-funded, government, "free") schools. I attended public schools and obtained an excellent education that challenged my intellect and imparted a broad understanding of the world and my place in it. I am forever grateful to my teachers. Some were more likable than others, but they were all dedicated to their craft and mission.

I began having misgivings concerning public education during my kids' school years. The schools they attended were less than challenging and often driven, it seemed, by educational fad (e.g., outcome-based education, open classrooms, new math). In addition, parents and teachers- the latter, mostly - were beginning to tell me stories of classroom discipline debacles of a sort that I never saw or even heard of when I was a student. Since then - over the past forty years, that is - the discipline problems teachers are expected to deal with have only gotten worse.

The further problem is that over that same time, teachers have been slowly but surely stripped of permission to punish. According to educational and psychological ideologues, punishment is demeaning, lowers self-esteem, leads invariably to resentment, and other things it is and does not. Research done by social scientists who possess an abundance of objectivity- increasingly hard to find - contradicts all the politically-correct propaganda pertaining to punishment.
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Colorado Springs conference highlights benefits of resolving conflicts in schools through empathy | Education | gazette.com

Colorado Springs conference highlights benefits of resolving conflicts in schools through empathy | Education | gazette.com | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it

School District 49’s BRIGHT (Building Restorative Interventions Growing Honorable Traditions) team hosted the two-day event in Colorado Springs for 250 educators from across the Pikes Peak region, along the Front Range, Western Slope and from states such as Wyoming and Texas.

A five-year, $1.5 million Department of Defense Education Activity grant funded the event as part of the district’s BRIGHT program to improve social-emotional support through implementing restorative practices.

Restorative practice is a fairly new thought process, said Lea Holland, D-49’s BRIGHT project manager. But the idea is based on time-tested methods of using empathy and acceptance to deal with conflict, and restore relationships.

“This is a behavioral model that shifts thinking, so when a child gets in trouble, there’s a team to reintegrate the child back into the classroom, to listen, respect, look at the individual and separate the deed from the doer,” Holland said.

The approach doesn’t remove discipline or consequences, she said.

Discipline is achieved through “participatory learning and decision-making,” according to the International Institute for Restorative Practices.

The organization defines restorative practice as “a specific process, with defined protocols, that brings together those who have caused harm through their wrongdoing with those they have directly or indirectly harmed.”

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Facebook will no longer force sexual harassment claims into arbitration, following Google's lead

Facebook will no longer force sexual harassment claims into arbitration, following Google's lead | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Facebook said Friday that it will no longer require employees to resolve sexual harassment claims in arbitration.
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Woman agrees to participate in diversion program in plea deal | Courts Cops | laconiadailysun.com

Woman agrees to participate in diversion program in plea deal | Courts Cops | laconiadailysun.com | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
LACONIA — A Tilton woman has received a suspended sentence for drug possession after pleading guilty to a reduced charge and agreeing to participate in a diversion program.
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Stopping the school to prison pipeline in Madison schools using restorative justice

Stopping the school to prison pipeline in Madison schools using restorative justice | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Every 53 minutes, a gentle chime invites students into the hallways of East High School, where their principal, Michael Hernandez, stands to the side of one corridor and greets them. “Hey, did you get those credits to transfer,” Hernandez asks one student and shakes the hand of another. He looks for one student in particular […]
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Puppies for Parole proves beneficial to inmates, puppies | California Missouri News

Puppies for Parole proves beneficial to inmates, puppies | California Missouri News | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
"Twice a week, they come in here to watch instructional training videos and use equipment to help the dogs agility," Scott said of the separate training building. "We've got a teeter totter, a ramp, weave poles and a jump. It's all part of the confidence course."

As of right now, TCC boasts 21 active dog handlers whose full-time job is to take care of the furry friends. The dogs are housed with the inmates in a housing unit close to the training building. There are 10 four-man rooms in the housing unit and those rooms with a dog have two handlers living in the same room. While not every room houses a dog, those that do hold a kennel for night time and a baby gate for when the dog is not in the kennel.

In order for the inmates to be placed in the program, they must put in an application and go through a rigorous screening process. The inmate must not have any violations for drugs; sexual misconduct; violations with the elderly, women or children; and, Scott said, "obviously, no issues with animals."

The goal of Puppies for Parole is simply to get the dogs adopted. This effort has proven to be wildly successful as, from TCC alone, 221 dogs have made it through the program with 104 being adopted, 62 of which were adopted by center employees. Even Scott himself adopted a dog from the program.

About twice a month, Jennifer Winkelman from Mid-Mo Dog Training, Jefferson City, visits with the offenders to give them even more training advice.

"I've been going there almost four years now," Winkelman said. "We just go over the basics and the best way to learn is to teach. So, I have the offenders that have been in the program for awhile answer questions any new offenders to the program may have.

"We go over basic obedience and work with the American Kennel Club certification. Right now, we work on about 10 things in the certification that we try to get each dog to accomplish."

She said one of the biggest items she works on with the inmates is problem solving.

"Positive reinforcement is used, if the dog is having some kind of a problem," she said. "We work with the offenders on how we can solve it, positively. You know, life is full of problems, so they sort out how we can talk this all through with positive motivation to work these problems out. It's a really important part of the program."

Inmate Arthur Park has worked with Puppies for Parole for 11 months and said he "believes in the program."

"It's a lot more than just training dogs," Park said. "We're training each other. We're rehabilitating the dogs and ourselves at the same time. I see a real connection with the dogs we help and us."

The mutual understanding of being in a shelter of sorts has boosted morale, not only with the dogs, but also the inmates who take care of them.

"This is a real mind-opener for some of us, and it's gotten us a little out of our comfort zone," inmate Theodore Thomas said. "We get to interact with other people and the dogs get to interact with other dogs. That and the dogs need treats and praise, just like us."

Most cycles of Puppies for Parole run eight to 10 weeks.

Every morning starts the same, with an 8 a.m. meeting outside to walk the dogs back and forth on the grounds. After the walk, offenders continue training the dogs, which is a constant job. Along with the training, offenders learn their dog's personalities and overall demeanors, even their fears.

"All the guys have to write in a big ol' book each week," Scott said. "Maybe their dog had a hard time making it through a thunderstorm, or they get skittish around certain things. We ask the guys to write about all of that, as often as they can."

For those wondering how the food, leashes, kennels and other animal care materials are funded, Scott emphasized not one penny from taxes is used for Puppies for Parole.
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Restorative justice answers to grim prison statistics

Restorative justice answers to grim prison statistics | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
A Victoria University of Wellington conference explores alternative ways to tackle New Zealand's high incarceration rates.
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L.A. County Looks to Expand Jail Diversion Program

L.A. County Looks to Expand Jail Diversion Program | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Share this article:A pilot program aimed at getting homeless people who commit low-level crimes into treatment or housing rather than jail cells is likely to be expanded, based on a vote Tuesday by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said 42 of the 109 people enrolled in the pilot have since …
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Larry Krasner’s Campaign to End Mass Incarceration

Larry Krasner’s Campaign to End Mass Incarceration | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it


Krasner asked his young prosecutors, “Who here has read Michelle Alexander?”Photograph by Jeff Brown for The New Yorker

Until Larry Krasner entered the race for District Attorney of Philadelphia last year, he had never prosecuted a case. He began his career as a public defender, and spent three decades as a defense attorney. In the legal world, there is an image, however cartoonish, of prosecutors as conservative and unsparing, and of defense attorneys as righteous and perpetually outraged. Krasner, who had a long ponytail until he was forty, seemed to fit the mold. As he and his colleagues engaged in daily combat with the D.A.’s office, they routinely complained about prosecutors who, they believed, withheld evidence that they were legally required to give to the defense; about police who lied under oath on the witness stand; and about the D.A. Lynne Abraham, a Democrat whose successful prosecutions, over nearly twenty years, sent more people to death row than those of any other D.A. in modern Philadelphia history.

In 1993, Krasner opened his own law firm, and went on to file more than seventy-five lawsuits against the police, alleging brutality and misconduct. In 2013, he represented Askia Sabur, who had been charged with robbing and assaulting a police officer. A cell-phone video of the incident, which had gone viral, showed that it was the police who had beaten Sabur, on a West Philadelphia sidewalk. Daniel Denvir, a former criminal-justice reporter at the Philadelphia City Paper and a friend of Krasner’s, recalled that, at the trial, Krasner revealed the unreliability of the officers’ testimony, “methodically unspooling their lies in front of the jury.” In dealing with such cases, Denvir said, Krasner sought to illustrate “prosecutors’ and judges’ typical credulity with regard to anything that a police officer said, no matter how improbable.” (Krasner later filed a civil lawsuit on Sabur’s behalf, which was settled for eight hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The police officers were never charged with lying on the witness stand.)

In Krasner’s spare time, he worked pro bono, representing members of act up, Occupy Philadelphia, and Black Lives Matter. In 2001, his wife, Lisa Rau, decided to run for state-court judge. Krasner asked some of the activists he had represented, including Kate Sorensen, of act up, for help. “We were involved with a whole community of anarchist activists—folks who generally don’t vote,” Sorensen said, “but we got hundreds and hundreds of lawn signs up all over the city.” Rau won, and later earned a reputation for challenging questionable testimony from the police.

In early 2017, when Krasner told the six-person staff of his firm that he was running for D.A., they erupted in laughter. On February 8th, he announced his candidacy with a speech in which he attacked the culture of the D.A.’s office, accusing prosecutors of embracing “bigger, meaner mandatory sentencing.” He accused the office, too, of casting a “very wide net,” which had “brought black and brown people from less prosperous neighborhoods into the system when that was in fact unnecessary and destructive.”

The president of the police union pronounced Krasner’s candidacy “hilarious.” Krasner received no mainstream-newspaper endorsements and, at first, was supported by only a few Democratic elected officials. He seemed to please almost no one in power––certainly not those in the office he hoped to lead, which has had its troubles in recent years. In 2017, the D.A. at the time, Seth Williams, was accused of accepting gifts, including a trip to a resort in Punta Cana, and later pleaded guilty to bribery, and was sent to federal prison. But few people saw Krasner as the solution. Twelve former prosecutors, nearly all of whom had worked under Williams, wrote a letter that was published in the Philadelphia Citizen: “While it might be demoralizing to work for someone who is federally indicted, imagine working for someone who has openly demonized what you do every day,” it read. “Why work for someone that reviles a career you are passionate about?”

Krasner, who is fifty-seven, is a compact man with an intense, slightly mischievous demeanor. He likes to say that he wrote his campaign platform—eliminate cash bail, address police misconduct, end mass incarceration—on a napkin. “Some of us had been in court four and five days a week in Philadelphia County for thirty years,” he said. “We had watched this car crash happen in slow motion.” Krasner often talks about how, running as a defense attorney, his opponents, most of whom had worked as prosecutors in the D.A.’s office, frequently attacked him for having no experience. At one event, they were “beating the tar out of me because I have not been a prosecutor. ‘Oh, my God! He’s never been a prosecutor!’ ” But the line of attack worked to his advantage. “You could hear people saying, ‘that’s good!’ ” Brandon Evans, a thirty-five-year-old political organizer, said. “I remember people nodding profusely, rolling their eyes, and shrugging their shoulders.”

In 2015, Philadelphia had the highest incarceration rate of America’s ten largest cities. As its population grew more racially diverse and a new generation became politically active, its “tough on crime” policies fell further out of synch with its residents’ views. During Krasner’s campaign, hundreds of people—activists he had represented, supporters of Bernie Sanders, Black Lives Matter leaders, former prisoners—knocked on tens of thousands of doors on his behalf. Michael Coard, a left-wing critic of the city’s criminal-justice system, wrote in the Philadelphia Tribune that Krasner was the “blackest white guy I know.” The composer and musician John Legend, a University of Pennsylvania graduate, tweeted an endorsement. In the three weeks before the primary, a pac funded by the liberal billionaire George Soros spent $1.65 million on pro-Krasner mailers and television ads. Strangers started recognizing him on the street. He trounced his six opponents in the primary, and went on to win the general election, on November 7, 2017, with seventy-five per cent of the vote. He was sworn in on January 1, 2018, by his wife.

In the past ten years, violent crime across the country has fallen, but, according to polls, many people continue to believe that it has increased. President Trump’s campaign exploited the fear of “American carnage,” and the criminal-justice system of the United States, which has the highest incarceration rate in the world, seems built on this misinformation. And yet, at a local level, there are signs of change. Krasner is one of about two dozen “progressive prosecutors,” many of them backed by Soros, who have won recent district-attorney races. In 2016, Aramis Ayala got early support from Shaquille O’Neal and won a state’s attorney race in Florida, and Mark Gonzalez, a defense attorney with “not guilty” tattooed on his chest, became the D.A. in Corpus Christi, Texas. Last month, Rachael Rollins, a former federal prosecutor, became the first African-American woman to win in a Democratic primary for D.A. in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, having promised to stop prosecuting drug possession, shoplifting, and driving with a suspended license, among other crimes. Instead, she said, she would handle the cases she didn’t dismiss in other ways, by sending defendants to community-service or education programs, for example. On September 7th, President Barack Obama delivered a speech to students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in which he referred to Krasner and Rollins: “If you are really concerned about how the criminal-justice system treats African-Americans, the best way to protest is to vote,” he said. “Do what they just did in Philadelphia and Boston and elect state attorneys and district attorneys who are looking at issues in a new light.”

Krasner now oversees five hundred and thirty-seven employees, including some three hundred prosecutors, and an annual budget of forty-two million dollars. With his tailored suits, well-trimmed silver hair, and square jaw, he could be mistaken for a Republican senator, but his speech is freewheeling and at times leaves his spokesperson, Ben Waxman, a thirty-three-year-old former journalist, looking anxious. At lunchtime each day, prosecutors returning from the courthouse stream through the doors of the D.A.’s office, pulling metal carts stacked with boxes of files, and ride an escalator to the mezzanine, then board an elevator to their offices.

When Krasner first arrived, he found, at the top of the escalator, a wall of portraits of his predecessors: Arlen Specter (1966-74), who was later elected to the U.S. Senate; Edward G. Rendell (1978-86), who went on to become the mayor of Philadelphia and the governor of Pennsylvania; Lynne Abraham (1991-2010), who ran, unsuccessfully, for mayor. It bothered Krasner that the wall did not feature portraits of the two former African-American D.A.s, Williams and the interim D.A., Kelley B. Hodge. But, Krasner admitted, “it’s a little hard to love putting up a picture of a D.A. who is currently doing five years in jail.” He took the portraits down.

Krasner often talks about his ambition to make Philadelphia the best progressive D.A.’s office in the country, but he knows that he faces an almost insurmountable challenge. Resistance comes not only from the lawyers he now supervises but also from some judges, many of whom are former prosecutors. “They are being forced to look back on their entire careers and say to themselves, Did I get it all wrong as a prosecutor? Have I gotten it all wrong as a judge? All these years coming down with twenty-five years when it should’ve been ten? And ten when it could’ve been two?” He went on, “It takes a pretty remarkable human being, who turned down big law firms, turned down big money, to do public service, to say, ‘Damn, I screwed up, I’ve been doing it wrong all this time, I think I’ll just fall into line with what it is these progressive prosecutors want to do.’ That’s hard.”

Krasner’s father was a freelance writer and an author of mystery novels. His mother was an evangelical preacher before she had children. When Krasner was eight, he moved with his parents and three brothers from St. Louis to a town outside Philadelphia. He attended the University of Chicago, where he majored in Spanish. After moving back home, while working as a carpenter he got called for jury duty and was assigned to a murder trial: an African-American handyman was accused of raping and strangling to death a seventy-six-year-old white woman in her home. One juror, an older man, “showed up with a cowboy hat,” Krasner recalled. “The first thing he said was something like, ‘We got to get this boy.’ ” After deliberation, Krasner and the other jurors voted to convict; the evidence of guilt was overwhelming. The defendant likely would have been sentenced to death had one juror not taken ill before a verdict was reached; the prosecutor agreed to a life sentence in order to avoid having to retry the case.

“It took a few days to get used to the new Gmail—I guess we’ll get used to this.”
The experience inspired Krasner to apply to law school. He was accepted at Stanford Law, and, at a mixer on the third day, met his future wife, Rau. In his third year at Stanford, he applied for a job at the office he now leads. He summed up the interviewer’s stance as “Why aren’t you in love with the death penalty? What the hell is wrong with you?” Krasner said, “It was very clear to me, about five sentences in, that this was not an office where I could ever work.”

On the morning of September 13th, I watched Krasner greet thirty-eight young Assistant District Attorneys, known among the staff as “baby A.D.A.s,” at the start of an eight-week training period. A new class of prosecutors arrives every fall, and this year’s A.D.A.s could have been forgiven for thinking that they had mistakenly wandered into training for public defenders. “Who here has read Michelle Alexander?” Krasner asked, referring to the author of “The New Jim Crow,” an influential analysis of mass incarceration. “Well, even if you haven’t read it,” he said, “open the flyleaf. Look at the stats. There are more people of color in jail, in prison, on probation and parole than there were in slavery at the beginning of the Civil War.” He reminded the trainees that they represent “the commonwealth.” “That means you represent people who are not victims of crime, people who are not defendants. You represent kids who are going to public schools, and they have too many kids in the class,” he said. “You represent—because you are stewards of an enormous amount of social resources—what their lives can be in ten or fifteen years if resources are in those schools.”

To assist with his office’s training, Krasner had hired an organization called Prosecutor Impact, run by Adam Foss, a thirty-eight-year-old former prosecutor from Suffolk County, Massachusetts. In 2016, Foss, who has dreadlocks that fall below his waist, became a celebrity in social-justice circles after giving a ted talk in which he detailed how prosecutors are “judged internally and externally by our convictions and our trial wins, so prosecutors aren’t really incentivized to be creative or to take risks on people we might not otherwise.” Foss, wearing jeans and a button-down shirt, stepped forward and told the A.D.A.s about his first day as a prosecutor, in 2008. “All I was told was how great I was, and how great prosecutors were, and how great everything that we did was,” he said. “Never once did I hear about the term ‘mass incarceration’ or trauma or poverty.”

For the A.D.A.s, Foss and his team had planned a visit to a prison, to talk to men who were given life sentences as teen-agers, and a sleepover at a homeless shelter. “We want people who are about to exercise their discretion and deal with the realities of homelessness and addiction and mental illness and danger, potentially, to have been in the vicinity of and to have spoken to some homeless people,” Krasner said. In his three decades as a defense attorney, he estimated that he had spent at least a year in prison, visiting clients. Six years ago, he and Rau bought a second-hand Lexus hard-top convertible, which Krasner drove with the roof down whenever he went to see imprisoned clients, as an antidote to the claustrophobia of prison.

Ten years ago, Krasner was attacked outside his office by two men, one of whom slashed his face with a razor blade. He rarely speaks about the incident, but when he does it is usually to make a point about how victims of crime often desire something other than what the criminal-justice system provides. He summarized the traditional approach to caring for victims as “We’re not going to have a robust form of therapy for you. We’re not going to have any aspect of this that could be restorative, where the person who harmed you will somehow make up for it,” and as “We’re going to put this person in a cell and that person really doesn’t have to do anything except not escape.”

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Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education - MOOC

Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education - MOOC | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
Engage with Indigenous knowledge keepers, educational leaders, and resources to enhance your understanding and knowledge of practices that advance reconciliation in the places where you live, learn, and work.
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After A Crime, Can Victim And Perpetrator Connect? Restorative Justice Hopes So | CPR

After A Crime, Can Victim And Perpetrator Connect? Restorative Justice Hopes So | CPR | Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Restorative Justice | Scoop.it
The countless stories of sexual abuse brought to light since the #MeToo movement began have underscored how speaking out is one step toward healing.

But, then what?

Some victim's advocates are taking a new approach. Restorative justice sits the victim of a crime down with its perpetrator. It's fraught with risks, but also opportunity.

Nancy Lewis, executive director of the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, and Lynn Lee, a restorative justice trainer and facilitator, are practicing the technique in Colorado. Lewis and Lee talked to Colorado Matters about restorative justice.
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