Archive for March 2010

Restorative Justice or Punitive Justice   Leave a comment

Restorative Justice or Punitive Justice

An e-mail has been circulating for the past couple of years that contains a number of pictures of a prison.   A very nice prison.   At first look it could be a very nice hotel or office building.   As one progresses toward the end of the pictures it becomes more clear that it is a prison as the cells tend to give it away.   After the last picture there is a statement which says that, the then Senator Barack Obama, had been instrumental in the promotion of this prison in his home state of Illinois.   The author of the statement also says that he thought that prisons were for punishment and that to spend so much on such an elegant facility to house criminals was a waste of tax payer dollars.   It was an attempt at criticism against President Obama and his fiscal policies.

I was offended by the e-mail, not so much because of the negativism against President Obama, but because of the insinuation that convicted felons are less than human.   I have long felt that prisons were for the rehabilitation and a restorative process for those convicted of a crime, not only for simple punishment.   I later found out that the photos in the e-mail were actually of a prison in Australia, not in Illinois, USA.   The then Senator Obama had nothing to do with it at all.   The entire story was false.

 Still, I am concerned that the United States penal system, is based primarily on punishment rather than a restorative system that would result in a successful return of convicted felons to society.   Australia, and several other developed countries of the world, have come to understand that restorative justice is, in most cases, far superior to punitive justice.   When restorative justice is administered, the rights of all concerned are addressed.   The perpetrator is called upon to acknowledge the pain/harm/suffering/loss caused to the victim.   Sometimes he/she is allowed to face and apologize and to “make right” as much as possible the wrong.   The victim is allowed some voice in the dissolution of the case.   The concerns of the larger society are also addressed.   There is opportunity for reconciliation and healing.   The process is sometimes long and tedious.   However the benefits are great.   Recidivism is low and the offender is more easily and quickly returned to society as a contributing citizen.   The United States of American has more civilian prisoners per capital locked up than any other developed nation.   This is primarily due to the inefficiency of our judicial system in its ability to rehabilitate and restore human dignity.  We, the USA, has a predominately punitive justice system.

 There are many excellent resources regarding restorative justice.   Howard Zehr is a renowned author and expert in the field.   He has written a number of books which define and explain the concept of restorative justice.   One such book is Changing lenses.   Mr Zehr has studied the restorative justice systems of some of the developed nations of the world.   There are also other resources available.   You may contact the Mediation Center in Independence at 816-461-8255 for more information.   A search on the web will reveal many others.   I would encourage anyone interested in law and order and a civilized society to check out this concept of restorative justice.   It would be well worth your while.

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Posted March 5, 2010 by terryflowersblog in Justice System

Global Warming…Climate Change…Climate Crisis (GW.CC1.CC2)   Leave a comment

 

Global Warming – Climate Change – Climate Crisis (GW.CC1.CC2)

 There has been much debate over the past several years about GW. Before getting into that, I believe that it would be a good idea to establish some definitions in regard to GW.CC1.CC2.   During times of extreme cold I frequently hear disparaging comments about GW.   They seem to think that GW means that the earth is experiencing an increase in temperatures in a uniform and global way.   Perhaps the problem stems from the term global warming. I can understand how it would be misleading.   I have heard some refer to the warming of the earth as CC1.   This term probably better describes what is happening to our planet than does GW.   It has been pretty well accepted that the average temperature of the earth has increased over the past few decades causing the increased melting of the polar caps.   The sea waters have increased in temperature which has affected the currents and weather patterns.   I recently heard a story on NPR about how the term CC2 may be a better term to describe this phenomenon.   He believes that unless we make changes soon in the amount of CO2 that we emit into the atmosphere, we may reach a tipping point from which there is no return.

 If we can at least agree that there is something happening to our planet perhaps we can begin a real discussion about its cause(s) and possible solutions.   The real debate would then be “does human activity have anything to do with the change (GW.CC1.CC2.)”?   Or is this a natural recurring cycle that the earth goes through over centuries and even millennium?

 I would like to suggest that even if this is a natural process through which the earth goes through, that the amount (regardless of how small) of CO2 that human activity contributes, could push the process enough to make all the difference.   If we were to reach such a tipping point, what then?   What would the price be that we would have to pay due to our inability or refusal to make the necessary changes?

 I know that change would require sacrifice.   Some would have to sacrifice more than others.   It would depend on how each earns their living how much one would have to sacrifice.   Others would benefit.  New opportunities for research and development would open up.   It would be an economic shift. That would be frightening to many.

 Another thought. If GW.CC1.CC2 is real and humanity can do anything to correct the process but we don’t, what have we lost or gained?  What is the greater risk?   If BW.CC1.CC2 is not real, and we make the changes to reduce CO2, what have we lost or gained?   Eventually we will need to find new sources of energy anyway as coal, natural gas and oil are limited resources.   We will each answer these questions differently depending on our personal bias and or preconceptions.   What we need is open and honest discussion on this important topic as the survival of our planet may depend on it.

Posted March 2, 2010 by terryflowersblog in Global Warming