Transformative justice is a broad philosophical strategy for responding to conflicts. It takes the principles and practices of restorative justice beyond the criminal justice system. It applies to areas such as environmental law, corporate law, labor-management relations, consumer bankruptcy and debt, and family law. It looks to the roots of harm, and tries to transform the origin story.
In practice, this means working to transform societal conditions before a harm has taken place. Imagine that? A justice system that focuses on prevention rather than administering punitive measures after the fact. For many of us this is simply too hard to imagine. It looks so different from our current version of justice, that it might seem impossible. Unfeasible. But here we dare to imagine what it would look like.
Long-term visions of the future:
#6 Systems of justice that center on harm prevention and the promotion of care, rehabilitation, and education, that does not seek to respond to violence with violence.
We want a society that centers collective freedom and justice over profit and punishment. Carceral systems do not provide adequate housing, proper mental health treatment or the means to a good life. Nor do punitive systems keep us safe. We strive for a world where we focus our energy on harm prevention, through ensuring that all humans have access to what they need. We aspire to forms of transformative justice for responding to social harms, such that the circumstances that led to harm are transformed at the core.
“I am actively working towards abolition. which means that i am trying to create the necessary conditions to ensure the possibility of a world without prisons.” - mariame kaba
Directional demands, utopian impulses, non- reformist reforms - the small action that we can take today that anchors us toward our aspirations.
Defund the police, decarcerate and also invest in alternative modes of harm prevention and response.
Prefiguration, living examples that demonstrate another world is possible:
#1 Marinaleda in Southern Spain — have eliminated the need for police by ensuring that every resident of the 3000 person town has access to housing, income and the means to thrive.
#2 Cherán, in Michoacán, Mexico — removed the state police nearly a decade ago. Despite Michoacan being “one of Mexico’s bloodiest states — where severed heads have been rolled across dance floors and grenades have been lobbed into crowded plazas. In July, there were over 180 murders in the state — the highest number for nearly a decade. And in the communities around Cheran — not even 10km away — stories of kidnap, extortion and murder are commonplace.” — in the last year there have been no murders, kidnaps or disappearances.
Until we build ourselves better futures, we need to defend against the worst harms.
- Defend the rights of those incarcerated, especially during COVID19 - “By keeping more people in the jails, you are increasing the overall number of people who contract the virus,” and the demand for hospital beds, ventilators and other lifesaving resources, said David E. Patton, head of the federal public defender’s office in New York City, which represents nearly half of the 2,500 inmates in the city’s two federal jails. “They are playing roulette with people’s lives.”
- Defend the rights of those incareated to vote. "One of the most perverse elements of the American criminal justice system - all across the country, almost everyone incarcerated on a felony conviction loses their right to vote during the entire time they spend in prison, and often for long periods even after their release — a phenomenon advocates refer to as “civic death.”
What you can do right now!
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