An Opening for Restorative Justice in Defunding the Police
No More Money for the Police
As Philip V. McHarris and Thenjiwe McHarris articulated in a recent New York Times Opinion piece, “We live in a violent society, but the police rarely guarantee safety. Now more than ever is the time to divest not only from police resources but also the idea that the police keep us safe.”
As the movement to de-fund policing gains momentum, the question inevitably arises, how will we protect public safety without, or with less law enforcement? Restorative and transformative justice can offer some answers. We understand that well-resourced communities grounded in shared values and trust are less likely to be plagued by violence and other forms of harm. We understand that punitive responses rarely foster meaningful accountability, and we know that certain conditions make it more likely that people will be able to take responsibility for harm and make amends.
Among other suggestions, the McHarris’s point out that, “Conflict interrupters and restorative justice teams could mediate situations where no one’s safety is being threatened.” This is an idea that some of us in New York City’s RJ and TJ communities have been discussing, but without substantial support, have been unable to operationalize.
We encourage you to share what you know about restorative practice, safety and accountability with your friends, family, coworkers and elected officials during this unprecedented time when previously marginalized ideas are becoming increasingly mainstream.