Criminal Tech After reading the three criminal justice focused articles I provided in CougarView, for this week, scope out the conceptual thread running th

After reading the three criminal justice focused articles I provided in CougarView, for this week, scope out the conceptual thread running through all three. Use note taking techniques described in Chapter 4 of “Write & Wrong” to:

  1. Write a thesis statement
  2. Create a detailed outline of your paper which lays out a summary of the information you would present in your final paper. This outline must include the minimum number of sections heads and subtopics required to covey your ideas. The outline also must follow the format contained in Chapter 4 of the Ferree and Pheifer book.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/03/broken-windows/304465/

ACADEMIA Letters

Restorative Justice’s Role in Criminal Justice Reform

Kenneth Lang, Glenville State College

Introduction

With the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, and now the conviction of Minneapolis Police
Officer Derrick Chauvin, decries to defund the police and institute genuine criminal justice
reform continue to echo across this nation. Officials have struggled to grapple with the turn
in the tide as violent crimes spikes with the defunding the police (CNN, 2021). While calls to
‘defund the police’ has obscured the idea of reimagining police departments, the larger ques-
tion centers on how we can achieve reform throughout the criminal justice system. Police
agencies and communities will undoubtedly be the catalyst in bringing about the necessary
reform. One aspect of reform that has not received much attention and could potentially prove
to be promising, pivots on the precepts of restorative justice. By instituting restorative justice
more consistently in criminal violations community policing efforts, and internal affair inves-
tigations, police agencies open the door to bringing about a more equitable form of justice,
shifting the justice paradigm from a retributive mindset to a more restorative collaboration.

Restorative Justice

The immediate notion for most who are unfamiliar with restorative justice is to suppose it to be
a soft-handed approach to offenses, whether criminal or otherwise in nature. Zehr (2002), who
is considered the grandfather of restorative justice in the United States, outlines this justice
as “…a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense
and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put
things as right as possible,” (p. 37). Restorative justice is a burgeoning movement throughout

Academia Letters, August 2021

Corresponding Author: Kenneth Lang, kenneth.lang@glenville.edu
Citation: Lang, K. (2021). Restorative Justice’s Role in Criminal Justice Reform. Academia Letters, Article
3012. https://doi.org/10.20935/AL3012.

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©2021 by the author — Open Access — Distributed under CC BY 4.0

the United States in courts, businesses, and schools (Umbreit, Coates, &Vos, 2007; Zehr,
2002). Though it’s more prominent in states such as Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and
Vermont, restorative justice is demonstrating evidence for its utilization (Van Ness & Strong
2015). Proponents for this justice model have evidenced its benefits. In using restorative
justice with incidents of wrongdoing participants have expressed a higher satisfaction rate,
a higher restitution payments, and lower recidivism rates (Sherman & Strang, 2007; Zehr,
2002). In fact, Colorado recently exhibited a significant reduction in juvenile recidivism along
with high victim satisfaction rates (Winder & Nunes, 2018).

More specifically, modern restorative justice is based on the response to wrongdoing and
indigenous cultures’ responses to offenses (Hand, C., Hankes, J., & House, T., 2012). Restora-
tive justice brings the stakeholders together affected by a wrongdoing and seeks to right the
wrong due to the relational aspect of the offense (Zehr, 2002). Moreover, it asks ‘What hap-
pened?’, ‘Why did it happen?’, ‘What was its impact?’, and ‘How do we right the wrong?’
(Pranis, 2005). Stakeholders involved in the incident then have the opportunity to articulate
their responses to these prescribed questions which produces a more communal approach to
resolving the incident and the prospect of reintegrating the offender back into the community
our social circles. Consequently, for those who have experienced a restorative justice praxis
with their incident, most articulate positive feedback about the process and its outcomes, giv-
ing way to the possibility of further expanding this justice concept.

While Zehr’s definition of restorative justice is the most referred to version, there is no
single structured definition as various scholars wrestle to include community attributes in the
definition (Van Camp & Wemmer, 2013). However, Walker (2013) does attribute the commu-
nity’s inclusiveness as a stakeholder in the process by noting, “Restorative justice is a way of
responding to criminal behavior by balancing the needs of the community, the victim and the
offenders. It is an evolving concept that has given rise to different interpretation in different
countries, one around which there is not always a perfect consensus,” (p.8). If then, restorative
justice is a process of impartiality that addresses multiple types of wrongs and better involves
the community in righting the wrong, can it be folded into the envelope of criminal justice
reform? By introducing this justice praxis into criminal violations, community policing ini-
tiatives, and internal affairs complaints police agencies could reap the benefits and improve
community inclusivity, satisfaction rates, and reduce recidivism rates.

Criminal Violations

Since the mid-1970s modern restorative justice has been introduced into the American crim-
inal justice system, modeling it much after the New Zealand’s structure to implement the

Academia Letters, August 2021

Corresponding Author: Kenneth Lang, kenneth.lang@glenville.edu
Citation: Lang, K. (2021). Restorative Justice’s Role in Criminal Justice Reform. Academia Letters, Article
3012. https://doi.org/10.20935/AL3012.

2

©2021 by the author — Open Access — Distributed under CC BY 4.0

concept into the juvenile justice system and await the benefits to matriculate as the juveniles
grew into adults. The idea was not only novel, but it was successful and brought about the
desired positive effects. While some are squeamish at the notion of utilizing restorative justice
in cases of violence, the evidence reflects the contrary. Not only is restorative justice effec-
tive in misdemeanors, but it is more effective in violent offenses (Sherman & Strang, 2007;
Zehr, 2002). There has been concern about victims in cases of violence being manipulated
or revictimized by the offender (Curtis-Fawkey & Daly, 2005). However, Miller and Iovanna
(2013) have demonstrated that by implementing a restorative justice process after a traditional
court adjudication, this threat is virtually eliminated and demonstrates the ability of restora-
tive justice to coincide and work in tandem with the current justice system. There is still much
research that needs to be accomplished with respect of restorative justice and violent crimes.
Nevertheless, Umbreit and Voss (2000) have demonstrated its successful implementation in
cases of murder, giving the surviving family members a voice in expressing the impact of the
crime and answering their often prevailing question of “Why?”

Today, restorative justice is flourishing as a grassroots movement in various jurisdictions
throughout the United States. State legislatures are also turning to explore the concept as new
laws are passed to enable court systems to implement the unfamiliar concept and measure
results. Even more importantly, restorative justice is not limited to crimes. It is also taking
hold in various businesses, industries, and educational systems. As it becomes known to
communities, restorative justice is quickly embraced.

Community Policing

Since the evolution of the Baltimore County Police’s Citizen Oriented Police Enforcement
(COPE) in 1982 (Behan, 1986), police agencies have sought ways to engage communities
in their crime fighting efforts. Evolving from this program is the more commonly known
concept of community policing, which remains a primary initiative with many major law en-
forcement agencies. In its advancement over the years, community policing has proven to be
quite effective with communities, particularly in the areas of patrol and traffic and criminal
investigations (Laru-an & Beup, 2015). Laru-an et al., further acknowledge that communities
need to be stakeholders and that “crime is everybody’s business,” (p. 1). But not all citi-
zens are aware of their responsibilities. Likewise, police agencies need to acknowledge the
involvement of communities in the processing of criminal events (Laru-an & Beup, 2015).

The benefits of restorative justice certainly align with the enforcement initiatives of any
given police department. It acknowledges stakeholders, including those form the community,
and affords community members the ability to voice their opinions and concerns about crim-

Academia Letters, August 2021

Corresponding Author: Kenneth Lang, kenneth.lang@glenville.edu
Citation: Lang, K. (2021). Restorative Justice’s Role in Criminal Justice Reform. Academia Letters, Article
3012. https://doi.org/10.20935/AL3012.

3

©2021 by the author — Open Access — Distributed under CC BY 4.0

inal offenses. The praxis also enables those affected by the crime and enables investigators
to bring about a richer appreciation of the various perspectives represented in these incidents.
Folding restorative justice techniques into community policing efforts could potentially fur-
ther enhance the already documented successes of community policing.

Internal Affairs Investigations

Policing the police can be an arduous and controversial task. For some, internal investigations
of officers by their own agency are presumed to unfold in a forthright manner. But for others,
trust in the agency’s ability to conduct an unbiased investigation has eroded. Unresolved in-
ternal investigations prove to negatively impact the confidence of the public. Mrozla (2019)
articulates the longer it takes to resolve an internal complaint, or complaints involving several
officers in the same incident, the less likely it becomes the case will reach a conclusion. Mro-
zla (2019) further posits that “[a] police-community relationship is based on the principle of
legitimacy. Citizens have more favorable views of the police when treated in a fair manner,”
(p. 10).

As with the community policing suggestion, restorative justice could prove to be quite ben-
eficial if implemented in the process of internal affair investigations. This is particularly true
with the necessity to improve community involvement in internal investigations. When ad-
ministrative charges against an officer are substantiated, citizens could be vested in the process
and articulate community concerns bringing about legitimacy to the investigative process.

Conclusion

The recent shift to defund the police and calls for criminal justice reform have certainly not
gone unnoticed by police departments, governments, and the citizenry. Advocates for these
movements are calling for less lethal and more equitable measures from their police, exhibiting
an interest in becoming more involved addressing crimes in their community. With properly
facilitated restorative justice methods, police agencies and the communities could experience
the well documented benefits of this less known justice concept. Stakeholders would have an
uninterrupted voice in the processes, increasing satisfaction rates and potentially decreasing
recidivism rates. Without question, in addressing criminal justice reform and bringing about
an authenticity with the community, criminal justice needs to find a new pathway forward
that is more equitable with the stakeholders affected by crime. After all, ‘crime is everyone’s
business.’

Academia Letters, August 2021

Corresponding Author: Kenneth Lang, kenneth.lang@glenville.edu
Citation: Lang, K. (2021). Restorative Justice’s Role in Criminal Justice Reform. Academia Letters, Article
3012. https://doi.org/10.20935/AL3012.

4

©2021 by the author — Open Access — Distributed under CC BY 4.0

References

Behan, C. J. (1986). Fighting fear in Baltimore County – the Cope Project. FBI Law En-
forcement Bulletin 55(11), 12-15.

Curtis-Fawley, S., & Daly, K. (2005). Gendered violence and restorative justice. Violence
Against Women, 11(5), 603-638. doi:10.1177/1077801205274488

Hand, C., Hankes, J., & House, T., (2012). Restorative justice: The indigenous justice system.
Contemporary Juvenile Review, 15(4), 449-467. doi: 1080/10282580.2012.734576.

Laru-an, N. G., & Beup, H. T. (2015). Levels of effectiveness in community policing. Inter-
national Journal of Scientific and Research Publications 5(2), 1-5.

Miller, S. L., & Iovanna, L. (2013). Using restorative justice for gendered violence success
with a postconviction model. Feminist Criminology, 8(4), 247-268. doi:10.1177/1557085113490781

Nickeas, P., Jones, J., Campbell, J., & Krishnakumar, P. (2021). Defund the police encounters
resistance as violent crime spikes. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/25/us/
defund-police-crime-spike/index.html.

Pranis, K., (2005). The little book of circle processes: A new/old approach to peacemaking.
Good Books.

Sherman, L. & Strang, H. (2007). Restorative justice: The evidence. Retrieved from http://
restorativejustice.org/10fulltext/restorative-justice-the-evidence

Umbreit, M.S., Coates, R.B., & Vos, B. (2007). Restorative justice dialogue: A multi-
dimensional, evidence-based practice theory. Contemporary Justice Review, 10(1), 23-
41. doi: 10.1080/10282580601157521.

Umbreit, M. S., & Vos, B. (2000). Homicide survivors meet the offender prior to execu-
tion. Homicide Studies, 4(1), 63-87. Retrieved from http://hsx.sagepub.com/content/4/1/
63.short

Van Camp, T. & Wemmer, J. (2013). Victim satisfaction with restorative justice: More
than simply procedural justice. International Review of Victimology, 19(2), 117-143. doi:
10.1177/02697580124727764.

Van Ness, D. W., & Strong, K. H. (2015). Restoring justice: An introduction to restorative

Academia Letters, August 2021

Corresponding Author: Kenneth Lang, kenneth.lang@glenville.edu
Citation: Lang, K. (2021). Restorative Justice’s Role in Criminal Justice Reform. Academia Letters, Article
3012. https://doi.org/10.20935/AL3012.

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©2021 by the author — Open Access — Distributed under CC BY 4.0

justice (5th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge

Walker, J. (2013). Restorative justice: Definition and purpose In Van Wormer, K. S. &
Walker, L. (Ed.), Restorative Justice Today: Practical Applications, 3-14, Thousand Oaks,
CA: Sage.

Winder, C., & Nunes, A.H. (2018). Restorative justice in juvenile diversion: An evalua-
tion of programs receiving Colorado rj cash funds. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/kenne/
Downloads/2018+RJ+Juvenile+Diversion+Evaluation+Report+-+Final%20(1).pdf

Zehr, H. (2002). The little book of restorative justice. Good Books.

Academia Letters, August 2021

Corresponding Author: Kenneth Lang, kenneth.lang@glenville.edu
Citation: Lang, K. (2021). Restorative Justice’s Role in Criminal Justice Reform. Academia Letters, Article
3012. https://doi.org/10.20935/AL3012.

6

©2021 by the author — Open Access — Distributed under CC BY 4.0

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