Compassionate Justice

We know the justice system is biased by inequality. The best justice money can buy. And the locations where this justice system is carried out – courtrooms, classrooms, living rooms, workplaces – are filled with people labeled with roles of unequal status: the judge and the accused, the cop and the criminal, the parent and the child, the perpetrator and the victim, the boss and the worker, the teacher and the student.  These roles and locations carry with them social and cultural capital that privileges one over another and support dynamics of “power over” and “power under.”

What if there was an alternative way of engaging with conflict where we could sit in a circle face to face as equals instead of in rows facing the one most powerful? Where role labels are stripped away and the cultural trappings enforcing domination gone?

This alternative justice system exists in a variety of forms known as restorative justice and restorative practices. I’d like to tell you about one approach I am familiar with: Restorative Circles. Continue reading